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GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 



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THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

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MACMILLAN & CO.. Limited 

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GENERAL INTRODUCTION 
TO ETHICS 



BY 
WILLIAM KELLEY WRIGHT, Ph.D. 

PHOFESSOB OF PHILOSOPHT IN DARTMOUTH COLLEGE 



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THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

1929 



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Copyright, 1929, 
By the MACMILLAN COMPANY 



Set up and electrotyped. Published June, 1929. 



All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction 
in whole or in part in any form. 



BET DP, ELECTROTYPED, AND PRINTED BT T. MOREY 4 SON 
IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 



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TO THE DARTMOUTH MEN 

who have elected my courses in Ethics, 
since I came to the College in 1916. 



PREFACE 

The aim of this book is to present a comprehensive view of 
the different fields of Ethics of most importance for the under- 
standing of the moral outlook and problems of our own time. 
The volume accordingly begins with a Part entitled "Com- 
parative Ethics", which contains an abstract outline of moral 
and social evolution in general, and a more concrete account 
of the sources of our modern occidental moral consciousness. 
Succeeding Parts discuss various phases of the psychology of 
ethics, systematic ethical theory, the ethics of the political 
state, the economic order and the family, and the significance 
of ethics in relation to metaphysics and religion. 

While all this is a considerable journey to traverse in the 
ordinary college course of forty to forty-five class exercises, 
experience has proved that this can be accomplished if time is 
carefully planned. This text could be covered entire in such a 
course, or one Part could be left out in order to allow more 
time for supplementary reading. The book has been written 
so that any entire Part (or either Division of Part I) can be 
omitted or taken up independently. The ideal arrangement, 
when practicable, would be to teach ethics in a three hour 
course running throughout the year; or in two successive and 
complementary one-semester courses, which would ordinarily 
be taken by the same students, but neither of which would 
necessarily presuppose the other. Parts I and III of this 
volume could be used in one semester, supplemented by read- 
ings in classical writers like Bentham, Mill, Spencer and Kant; 
while Parts II, IV, and V with supplementary readings from 
writers of our own time would do for the other. Numerous 
references for supplementary reading are given in the lists at 
the ends of the chapters, most of which have been tried out for 
this purpose and found satisfactory. The Notes, primarily 



viii PREFACE 

intended for teachers, advanced students, and general readers 
not in attendance upon classes, contain additional references 
and some pedagogical suggestions. 

There is little place for originality in an elementary text 
which attempts to give a general view of ethics as a whole. 
Attention may be called, however, to some details in the corre- 
lation of moral and social evolution with the advance from 
customary to reflective morality in Part I ; to the interpretation 
of the virtues in terms of sentiments in Chapter IX, especially 
to the virtues of economy and reverence; to the working com- 
promise between Utilitarianism and Eudsemonism in Chapters 
XIII and XIV, which is empirically justified by the combined 
use of the two in Part IV; to the canon of distributive justice 
in Chapter XVI; and to various thoughts on metaphysics and 
religion in the last chapter. The temptation to expand the 
discussion of these topics had to be resisted, as the purpose of 
the volume is to give a general introduction to ethics as a whole, 
and not to defend personal theories. 

I owe my first interest in ethics to undergraduate courses 
in the nineties with Dr. Warner Fite and Mr. Addison Webster 
Moore, then young instructors at the University of Chicago. 
My graduate work in ethics was taken with Professor James 
Hayden Tufts, under whose supervision I wrote my doctoral 
dissertation on an ethical subject, and in whose department I 
was later an instructor. I owe much to other senior colleagues 
among whom mention must be made of Professors George 
Herbert Mead, Edward Scribner Ames, Frank Thilly, Frank 
Chapman Sharp, Professor (now President) James Rowland 
Angell, Professor (later President) Sidney Edward Mezes, Pro- 
fessor (now Chancellor) Ernest H. Lindley, and Professor James 
Edwin Creighton now of beloved memory. M}^ obligations to 
Professors WilHam McDougall and Lionel T. Hobhouse can 
be noted in almost every chapter. Other obligations are made 
evident in the Notes, and by the lists of References at the ends 
of the chapters. My greatest debt, after all, is to my students 
in ethics, to whom this volume is dedicated. Their keen ques- 



PREFACE ix 

tions and criticisms have kept me awake, and their enthusiasm 
has been a constant inspiration and refreshment. Suggestions 
offered by the readers of the Macmillan Company have helped. 
Mrs. Adair Wilhams has typed the manuscript with meticulous 
accuracy. My wife has given much valuable assistance with 
manuscript and proof; if the book is now intelligible, it is 
chiefly due to her. 

W. K. W. 
Hanover, New Hampshire, , 

May, 1929. 



CONTENTS 



INTRODUCTION 

CHAPTER PAGE 

I. The Scope of Ethics 3 

(i) Moral Judgments, (ii) Definitions of Ethics. 
(hi) Divisions of Ethics, and their Relations to Psy- 
chology, Political Science, Economics, Sociology, 
Religion, and Metaphysics. 



PART I 

COMPARATIVE ETHICS 

DIVISION A. SOCIAL AND MORAL EVOLUTION 

II. Social Evolution 23 

(i) Introduction to the Outline of Social Evolution, 
(ii) The Relation of Kinship, (iii) The Primitive 
Horde, (iv) The Maternal System, (v) The Pater- 
nal System, or Father Right, (vi) The Relation of 
Authority, (vii) The Relation of Citizenship. 

III. MoEAL Evolution 46 

(i) Introductory, (ii) The Primitive Horde, (in) 
Group Morality, and the Higher Subtypes of Kin- 
ship, (iv) Custom Morality. Folkways. Mores, 
(v) How Customs Originate and Change, (vi) The 
Relation of Authority, (vii) Citizenship and Rer 
flective Morality, (viii) Three General Character- 
istics of Moral Evolution. 



xii CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

IV. The Moral Development of the Ancient 

Hebrews 71 

(i) Introductory. Historical Outline. (ii) The 
Kinship Period, (iii) The Kingdom Prior to Amos, 
(iv) The Preexilic Prophets, and the Book of Deu- 
teronomy, (v) The Exile, and After. 

DIVISION B. OCCIDENTAL ETHICAL EVOLUTION 

V. The Moral Development of Ancient Greece 

AND Rome 91 

(i) Greek Political and Social Evolution, (ii) Roman 
Political and Social Evolution, (iii) Greek and 
Roman Moral Consciousness. Paganism, (iv) Soc- 
rates and the Emergence of Ethics, (v) Hellenic 
Ethical Systems. Plato. Aristotle, (vi) Hellenistic 
and Roman Ethics. Epicurus. The Stoics. Cicero. 
Seneca. The Roman Jurists, (vii) Ethics and Re- 
ligion. Philo and the Mystery Religions. 

VI. Christianity 135 

(i) Introductory. Two Preliminary Comments, (ii) 
Moral Teachings of the New Testament. Features 
Generally Agreed upon. Disputed Points, (iii) 
Catholicism, Ancient and Medieval. St. Thomas 
Aquinas. Modern Roman Catholicism. Anglican 
Catholicism, (iv) Protestantism. Causes of the Ref- 
ormation. Subsequent Developments. 

VII. Modern Moral Development .... 165 

(i) Introductory, (ii) The Renaissance. Humanism. 
Hobbes. Spinoza. The Cambridge Platonists. 
(hi) The Enlightenment. Locke, Shaftesbury, 
Hume, Adam Smith, Voltaire, Montesquieu, Rous- 
seau, and Others. Merits and Defects, (iv) The 
Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Humanitari- 
anism. Industrial Revolution. Doctrine of Evolution. 
Kant. Intuitionism. Utilitarianism. Hegel. Xeo- 
Hegehanism. Schopenhauer. Nietzsche. Comte, 
Guyau, Durkheim. Spencer. 



CONTENTS xiii 

PART II 

PSYCHOLOGY AND ETHICS 

lAPTER ^^^^ 

VIII. Sentiments 197 

(i) Reflexes and Habits, (ii) Impulses and Instincts, 
(in) Nonspecific Impulsive Tendencies, (iv) Senti- 
ments, (v) Complex Impulses and Emotions, (vi) 
Sentiments Are Organic. 

IX. Virtues 221 

(i) Virtues and Vices in General, (ii) Objectivity of 
the Virtues, (iii) Cardinal Virtues: Courage; Honor; 
Temperance; Justice; Love; Loyalty; Economy; Wis- 
dom; Respect; Reverence. 

X. The Self 250 

(i) Unity and Diversity of the Self. The "empirical 
me." (ii) Roles of the Self, (iii) Social Nature of the 
Self, (iv) Sympathy, (v) Pleasure and Unpleasant- 
ness, (vi) Hedonism, (vii) Duty and Conscience, 
(vm) Reason and Volition, (ix) Self-Realization 
and Self-Sacrifice. Choice of a Vocation, (x) Free- 
dom and Responsibility; Determinism and Indeter- 
minism. 

PART III 
SYSTEMATIC ETHICS 

XI. Intuitionism . . . • • • • 283 

(i) Classification of Ethical Systems, (ii) Intuition- 
ism and Common Sense, (in) Intuitionism and Con- 
science, (iv) Ethical Axioms. Sidgwick. (v) Ab- 
stract Ethics. Spinoza, (vi) Motives. Martineau. 
(vii) Conclusion. 



xiv CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

XII. Formal Ethics: Kant 299 

(i) Intuitionism and Formalism, (ii) The Categorical 
Imperative: — First Formulation, (in) Humanity as 
End in Itself, (iv) Autonomy and the Kingdom of 
Ends, (v) The Complete Good, (vi) Further Criti- 
cisms, (vii) Conclusions. 

XIII. Utilitarianism 317 

(i) Ethical Hedonism, (ii) Egoistic Hedonism, (in) 
Other Utihtarian Arguments, (iv) Conclusions. 

XIV. EUD^MONISM 334 

(i) Introductory, (ii) Evolution, (in) A Classifica- 
tion of Values, (iv) Values and Virtues, (v) Values 
as Intrinsic, Absolute, and Eternal, (vi) Conclusions. 



PART IV 
POLITICAL AND SOCIAL ETHICS 

XV. The State 359 

(i) Citizenship, (n) Sovereignty, (in) Natural 
Rights, Civil Rights. Political Rights, (iv) Formal 
Freedom and Real Freedom, (v) Law and Justice, 
(vi) Crime and Punishment, (vii) War. (viii) In- 
ternationalism. 

XVI. Distributive Justice 394 

(i) The Relation of Ethics to Economics, (n) Prop- 
erty Rights, (in) Equality of Consideration, (iv) A 
Canon of Distributive Justice, (v) Capitalism or 
Collectivism? Communism. State Socialism. Guild 
Sociahsm. Consumer's Cooperative Democracy. 

XVII. The Professions and Business .... 425 

(i) Vocational Ethics, (ii) Professional Ethics. 
Medical and Legal Codes, (in) Business Ethics, 
(iv) The Choice of a Vocation. 



CONTENTS XV 

CHAPTER PAGE 

XVIII. The Family, and the Position of Women . . 445 

(i) Introductory, (ii) Historical, (iii) The Ideal in 
Marriage, and Some of Its Implications, (iv) Di- 
vorce, Trial Marriages, etc. (v) Unsettled Questions 
Regarding the Position of Women. 



PART V 
METAPHYSICS AND RELIGION 

XIX. The Ethical Postulates, and their Signifi- 
cance for Metaphysics and the Philos- 
ophy OF Religion 475 

(i) Essential Postulates for any Possible System of 
Ethics, (ii) Further Metaphysical Implications of 
Ethics. Absolute Idealism. Personal Idealism. 
Pragmatism. Realism. Emergent Evolutionism, 
(in) Ethical Implications for the Philosophy of Re- 
ligion: — Validity of Religious Experience; Ethical 
Arguments for the Existence of God; Nature of God; 
Personal Immortality. 

Notes 503 

Index 549 



INTRODUCTION 



CHAPTER I 
THE SCOPE OF ETHICS 

I. Moral Judgments 

Throughout history, men have been keenly interested in 
moral issues. A discussion always waxes interesting when it 
raises questions of justice and fair play, of honor and loyalty, 
of the rights and duties of individuals, classes of society, or 
nations. 

We are all constantly expressing judgments regarding our 
own conduct and that of others. Some acts and motives we 
judge praiseworthy and good; others we deem blameworthy 
and wrong. We admire the characters of some persons and 
wish that we were more like them; other persons we regard 
with aversion and disapproval. This man, this labor union, 
this church, or this nation we applaud for standing courageously 
for rights that ought to be maintained at whatever cost. That 
woman, that corporation, that secret society, that state, we 
condemn for distasteful or immodest demeanor, for unfair com- 
petition, for racial and religious intolerance, for bad faith in 
diplomatic relations. Such judgments, passed upon ourselves 
or other persons or groups, are moral judgments. 

In the present generation, in America, there is less unanimity 
than in the past, respecting moral judgments. To be sure, 
every age has to some extent been one of transition. No gen- 
eration have ever seen moral issues precisely as their fathers 
did. But in no previous period in American history have the 
moral judgments of the past been subjected to so extensive crit- 
icism and revision. 

Let us glance at some illustrations. Alcoholic intemperance 
has received more sweeping condemnation than ever before, 

3 



4 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

and a large part, at least, of public opinion has sanctioned 
drastic legal steps for the prevention of such misconduct. On 
the other hand, the severe moral judgments of our ancestors 
regarding amusements, sabbath observance, and like conven- 
tions, have been modified. No generation in modern times have 
seen such changes in the conduct expected of women — what 
conventions they shall observe in public, what part they shall 
take in social, political, and economic activities. Never before 
in America have the rights and duties of the business man, the 
employer of labor, and the investor of capital been so keenly 
discussed and subjected to so much regulation by law and pub- 
lic opinion. In no previous age has the status of the laboring 
man become so greatly altered, and in few ages have farmers 
been so self-conscious as a class. During recent years we have 
passed through violent fluctuations in public opinion regarding 
our moral rights and obligations as a nation in relationship to 
the rest of the world. At first we thought we ought to remain 
neutral in the World War; later we decided that it was our duty 
to enter the war on the side of the Entente. We then found 
military conscription and regulation of discussion bj^ the press 
and by public speakers justifiable in order to secure moral 
solidarity in the effort to win the war. Since peace has come 
again, the rights kept in abeyance during the conflict are as- 
serted more vigorously than ever. Whether we can best serve 
humanity by adhering to our traditional policies, or whether 
we should enter into closer relations with other nations is stfll 
much in dispute. What respective positions shall be held by 
religion and science in our educational institutions is also a 
live moral issue. While preponderant American public opinion 
is still no doubt conservative, there probably has never been a 
time when the advocates of so many revolutionary changes in 
our economic structure, our form of government, our religious 
beliefs and practices, and even our family system, have suc- 
ceeded in attracting attention and in organizing zealous groups 
of supporters. 
At a time, therefore, when so many novel situations call 



THE SCOPE OF ETHICS 5 

for moral decisions, a scientific study of moral judgments is of 
special importance. Whoever wishes to be an effective citizen 
of our age, and to make his life successful in service of self and 
society, will profit by it. 

A precise definition of moral judgments is impracticable at 
the outset. Every one, however, can readily understand, from 
his own experience and observation, what is meant by them. 
Many experiences are easily recognizable, that cannot be defined 
in a popular way. This is true of elementary sense qualities. 
It would be difficult to define "red", "green", "sour", "sweet", 
"cold", or "pain"; but all know to what sensations these 
words refer. So it is with moral judgments. A moral judg- 
ment is never passed upon the processes of inanimate nature 
(unless they are personified and given human attributes, through 
savage superstition or poetic imagination). Moral judgments 
are not passed upon the behavior of animals. Such processes 
and behavior are not, properly speaking, human conduct, 
whereas moral judgments are confined to human conduct. 
Moral judgments are passed upon the actions of children, with 
allowance for their ages and mental capacities. 

In the study of moral judgments, the adjective "moral" is 
used by ethical writers in two different ways. In the wider 
sense, "moral" is opposed to '^unmoral'' (of which "nonmoral" 
and "amoral" are synonyms). Most of our actions in the 
course of a day are unmoral. It was right to perform them, it 
would have been equally right not to have performed them, or 
to have performed them in a different way. No moral issue is 
involved. Under ordinary circumstances, as Herbert Spencer 
remarks, it would be ethically indifferent (i.e., unmoral) whether 
one chose to walk, on a summer's afternoon, to the waterfall 
or along the seashore.^ But choice between the alternatives 
would be moral, and not unmoral, if one were accompanied by 
a friend who had explored the seashore but had not seen the 
waterfall, or whose strength one walk might be liable to over- 
tax. In the narrower sense, "moral" is opposed to "immoral", 
good and right choices being moral, while bad and wrong 



6 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

choices are imnioral. The choice whether or not to take the 
friend on the walk that would most please him, however made, 
would be a moral choice, using "moral" in the wider sense, for 
it could not be an unmoral choice. If it were decided to take 
the friend on the walk best suited to him, the decision would 
also be moral, using " moral " in the narrower sense. But if 
a person selfishly and knowingly chose the walk that might 
overtax his friend's strength, his conduct would clearly be 
immoral. Human conduct can therefore be classified in ac- 
cordance with the following table : 

f moral (in narrower sense) 
moral (in wider sense) i 

Human ( immoral 

Conduct 



unmoral, or morally indifferent ( = nonmoral, amoral) 

If the reader will keep in mind the two different senses in 
which the term "moral" is used in ethics, he will ordinarily 
have no trouble in determining in any given context which usage 
is employed. Since we all know, in a general way, what such 
terms as "good", "bad", "evil", "right," and "wrong" mean, 
it will be safe for the present to leave them undefined. Differ- 
ent schools in ethics attempt to define them in various ways, 
and some writers believe them to be ultimately indefinable. 
Such questions of ethical theory we shall consider in Part III. 

II. Definition of Ethics 

Ethics, or Moral Philosophy, may be defined in a provisional 
way, as the scientific study of moral judgments. There are various 
ways in which moral judgments can be studied, and so there are 
different divisions of ethics, as will be seen in the next section. 

Ethics is here defined as a "scientific study", rather than as 
a "science". It cannot yet be claimed to have developed into 
a special science, in the sense of physics, biology, economics, and 
psychology. All the special sciences were branches of philos- 
ophy in the earlier stages of their development. Each became 
a separate science when a technique of some kind had been 



THE SCOPE OF ETHICS 7 

developed, by which investigation and reasoning could be 
practically tested, and conclusions could be regarded, at least 
for the time being, as established or refuted. Thus Galileo is 
credited with having made the new special science of physics 
possible, when he found a means of testing his theoretical rea- 
soning regarding velocities by constructing an inclined plane 
at the tower of Pisa, rolling balls down it, and measuring the 
actual rate at which they fell. He had found a way of combin- 
ing theoretical reasoning with practical experiment, — in other 
words, a technique. Each natural and social science has a more 
or less developed technique of its own, perhaps in no other 
instance so accurate as that of physics, but sufficient to enable 
investigators to test their hypotheses by direct observation, 
and so to accumulate considerable funds of generally accepted 
knowledge. 

Until a technique has been developed in any particular field 
of human inquiry, the preliminary work has to be left to the 
philosophers. As "mother of the sciences", philosophy has 
venerable methods of her own, which enable her to make use 
of whatever information actually has been accumulated in any 
given field, and to illuminate this information with her own re- 
flection on the nature of man and the universe. Philosophy in 
modern times has been glad to learn of her children, the special 
sciences. The methods, results, and general outlook achieved 
by each of them are carefully compared and correlated. A 
general picture of the nature of the universe, and the place of 
human activities in it, is thus achieved. Within this general 
setting a place is found for each of the separate disciphnes still 
remaining within philosophy. Somewhat diiferent general pic- 
tures of the world have been portrayed by philosophers of 
different contemporary schools — idealists, realists, pragmatists, 
and others. Accordingly, the setting of ethics within the pic- 
ture has been variously conceived. All the interpretations are 
suggestive, as each contributes something that the others lack, 
and so enables us to understand better the significance, of the 
moral Ufe. But none has been entirely adequate or universally 



8 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

convincing. Rapid progress is now being made within the 
various divisions of ethics, and the time may come when ethics 
shall gain a technique of her own, and become a younger sister 
of political economy, political science, sociology, psychology, 
and education, all of which have become independent sciences 
within the last hundred years. 

For the present, however, the words of Aristotle, prefatory 
to the first and greatest treatise that has ever borne the title 
of Ethics, still apply to works on the subject: ''We must be 
content to indicate the truth roughly and in outline; and as 
our subjects are true generally, but not universally, we must be 
content to arrive at conclusions that are only generally true. It 
is right to receive the particular statements which are made in 
the same spirit; for an educated person will expect accuracy in 
each subject only so far as the nature of the subject allows." ^ 
So the beginner in Ethics must not expect too much. This 
subject cannot furnish him with a ready method for deciding 
all moral issues with mathematical exactness. 

Nevertheless the serious student of Ethics will find his work 
both profitable and interesting to the highest degree. His 
understanding of moral problems will be widened, as he becomes 
acquainted with the thoughts of other men upon problems of 
good and evil, justice and injustice, virtue and vice, the rights 
and duties of the individual and of society. His critical faculties 
will be trained. He will know the reasons for his moral con- 
victions, and also the reasons for the moral convictions of 
others. His reverence for duty will be deepened. On the whole, 
he will become more tolerant, but his moral judgments in be- 
coming more discriminating will not become more lax. He 
will not confuse charity with condonation of vice and wrong. 
Far from finding that "to comprehend all is to forgive all", 
is a universal principle, he will learn that while sometimes to 
comprehend is to forgive, at other times it is to condemn with 
severity, though never with ignorance or injustice. 

The study of Ethics will enable a person to understand better 
what his conscience is, how he acquired it, how far he is likely 



THE SCOPE OF ETHICS 9 

to be able to trust to its deliverances with safety, and how he 
can improve it and make it more intelligent. He will gain a 
clearer insight into his claims upon society, and the duties that 
he owes to society. He will learn to discriminate between the 
respects in which all individuals are mutually interdependent 
and those in which each is responsible for his own life, and 
ought to insist upon freedom of initiative. He will find that no 
essential moral principle depends upon the acceptance or re- 
jection of any particular standpoint in religion or metaphysics. 
The same moral obligations toward society and self hold for 
theist and atheist, Jew and Christian, idealist and realist, 
absolutist and pragmatist, determinist and indeterminist. How- 
ever, it will be seen that considerations based upon our moral 
judgments, in the author's opinion at least, favor faith in a 
moral world order, personal immortality, and a personal God. 
Finally, while a book on Ethics can by no means prescribe for 
anj^one what should be his vocation in life, or his avocations, 
it can at least proffer some considerations, from the standpoints 
of self-realization, self-sacrifice, and service, that ought to help 
anyone in making such decisions. 

III. Divisions of Ethics 

The various divisions of Ethics rest upon no particular logical 
principle of division or classification. They represent, rather, 
the different fields in which, in view of the present state of 
human knowledge and interest, moral philosophers have under- 
taken studies of moral judgments. (The term "moral philoso- 
pher" is used in this volume for the specialist in ethics in prefer- 
ence to the more awkward term ''ethicist".) 

Comparative Ethics is a study of the moral judgments of man- 
kind in different periods of human history, and upon different 
levels of culture. Now that human mental evolution is known to 
be an extension of animal behavior, there has been considerable 
interest in this side of ethics. We should like, if we could, to 
trace continuously the different stages in human mora,l evolu- 
tion, from the first moral judgments of the most primitive men 



10 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

down to those of western civilized nations at the present time. 
This, of course, cannot be done with entire confidence. Too 
many chapters in the record are missing. Still, we know that 
the moral judgments of any age are closely connected with its 
social organization. And, in a broad way at least, the different 
stages in social evolution have been successfully outlined, and 
the characteristic moral judgments of each stage have been 
noted. In Part I, therefore, it will be the effort of this book to 
sketch the general course of human moral and social evolution, 
with emphasis upon those phases that have contributed most 
to the formation of the moral judgments generally accepted in 
occidental countries to-day. We shall be particularly con- 
cerned with the moral development of the ancient Hebrews, 
Greeks, and Romans, and the Christian church, inasmuch as 
our moral outlook still owes most to the contributions that 
have come down from these sources. On the other hand, we 
shall not discuss the developments in ethical theory and moral 
practice that have taken place in Egypt, Babylonia, Persia, 
Arabia, India, China, and Japan. While all these have high 
intrinsic merit and interest, and are useful for those who wish 
to study the Orient, they have had comparatively little influence 
on our western moral tradition. 

The Psychology of Ethics is a study of those phases of human 
consciousness and behavior that determine conduct and character, 
so far as these are moral or imrnoral. The student of ethics is 
anxious to learn all he can from the psychologist about the ways 
in which impulses govern human conduct, how habits and 
sentiments are formed and broken, how virtues and vices go 
to make up human character, what selfhood and personality 
are, the part played by pleasure and emotion in human actions, 
the nature of conation and volition, and the relation of all these 
processes to reasoning. We obviously need to know how human 
conduct goes on psychologically before we can intelligently 
praise or condemn it, or consider how it can be made better. 
It is with these phases of psychology that Part II will accord- 
ingly be concerned. 



THE SCOPE OF ETHICS 11 

Probably there is nothing in Psychology that is wholly with- 
out concern to the student of Ethics. It used to be said, that 
Psychology is concerned with a description of mental processes 
as such, while Ethics studies these processes in order to evaluate 
them, to determine whether they are right or wrong. Obviously 
it is impossible to evaluate any process without knowing how 
it actually goes on. However, much of the content of an or- 
dinary text in Psychology is not of great moment to the moral 
philosopher. He gains little light on ethical problems, for 
instance, from a detailed study of the processes of sensation, 
or the various tests of intelligence, and not much more from 
meticulous analyses of the higher thought processes. The 
springs to human action are found rather in the affective and 
conative processes. Abnormal psychology has some significance 
for the advanced student of applied ethics, who is concerned 
with crime and punishment, with the determination of moral 
responsibility in doubtful cases, the moral education of persons 
of abnormally low intelligence, the reformation of moral de- 
generates, and like problems. In an introductory textbook, 
however, emphasis should be upon the conduct and moral 
judgments of ordinary human beings. 

Systematic Ethics is the oldest branch of ethics, that to which 
the term was long exclusively applied. Ethics, as previously 
defined in this chapter, is the scientific study of moral judg- 
ments. The adjective "systematic" has a narrower connota- 
tion: it refers to systems of philosophy. The word Ethics in 
Greek is td ethicd, or ethice, or ethich epistem^, the study of ethos, 
character. The latter word is connected with ^thos, custom or 
habit. Morals, in the early stages of social evolution, are almost 
wholly customs regarded as obligatory. The Latin word mores, 
which sometimes means customs or habits and sometimes 
morals, illustrates the relationship. The singular of mores is 
mos, which refers to a habit of a person, or his general disposi- 
tion, or his moral character. So moral philosophy (philosophia 
moralis) originally was the philosophical interpretation, of cus- 
tom and character. 



12 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

Ever since the time of Plato, moral philosophers have sought 
to set forth an adequate philosophical interpretation of human 
conduct, — to formulate some all inclusive ideal for human 
endeavor, a summum honiim or highest good, which would serve 
as a criterion for right and wrong in all cases. Some have con- 
tended that the "good" is recognized intuitively, and that our 
moral sense or conscience enables us to recognize it without 
much effort. Others, the greatest of whom was Kant, have 
believed that some universal rule for moral judgments can be 
found, that will indicate what is right to do in all cases without 
exception. Still others deny that the "good" can be recognized 
by immediate intuition, or by deductive reasoning; we must 
carefully observe the consequences of actions, and judge right 
that which will in the long run further the best ends. Those of 
this last group who believe that the ultimate end or highest 
good is pleasure or happiness (conceived as a sum of pleasures) 
have been known as Utilitarians; while those of them who be- 
lieve that the ultimate end is more inclusive, and comprehends 
character and other goods that cannot wholly be reduced to 
pleasure, have received various designations — the one adopted 
in this text is "Eudaemonism". The freedom of the will is 
another problem with which the great moral philosophers have 
been concerned: all have agreed that man is free in the sense 
that he is morally responsible ; but determinists and indetermin- 
ists have advanced quite different theories as to the nature of 
freedom and moral responsibility. In Part III we shall study 
certain of the more important of these great classical systems, 
which throw light upon the nature of moral judgments, and 
the part that man can and should play in the world. 

Political Ethics is the study of moral judgments applied to the 
conduct of the state, including the rights and ohligations of citi- 
zens and subjects. The noun state and the adjective political 
in this definition are intended to apply to all governmental 
units, — precinct, town, city, county, "state" (in the American 
sense), national government, — and a world state, should one 
ever come into existence. Among the more important questions 



THE SCOPE OF ETHICS 13 

of Political Ethics are those concerned with what rights and 
duties the citizen holds with reference to the state, and the 
state with reference to him. At the one extreme have been 
those individualists who, like Spencer, thought of the state as 
a kind of limited liability company, formed by the citizens to 
perform a very restricted set of functions, like military and 
naval defense, police protection, and the postal service. In- 
dividualists wish to afford each citizen as much freedom of 
initiative as possible, and to limit state interference with 
his activities to the minimum. At the other extreme have 
been those who, like Plato, held the organic theory of the 
state, — and believed individuals to be mutually interdependent 
like the different organs of the human body. Those most dis- 
posed to this view at the present time favor more activities on 
the part of the state for the promotion of the welfare of its 
citizens than do the individualists — for instance, state regula- 
tion or ownership of railways and other means of transporta- 
tion, of mines, forests, and other limited natural resources, and 
even of factories and farms. Not all, or even the majority of 
those who favor the organic theory go to such extremes, of 
course. But most of them affirm that the close interdependence 
of individuals upon one another and upon the state morally 
justify a considerably larger amount of political control than is 
exercised in this country at present. Probably the majority 
of American thinkers are still individualists rather than be- 
lievers in the organic theory of the state, but nearly all concede 
the desirability of state interference in more instances than 
did the individualists of earlier generations. 

Another important set of problems of contemporary Political 
Ethics deals with the basis of law and justice, with the reasons 
why crimes are wrong, and why and how the state may right- 
fully punish those who commit them. Among the most serious 
questions of our time are those dealing with the relations that 
should prevail between national states, including the difficult 
problems of how far a state, consisting of constantly changing 
citizens and rulers, is accountable for treaties and other con- 



14 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

duct in the sense in which an individual is, on what grounds it is 
either its right or its duty to engage in war, the rules by which 
warfare should be waged, the search for a moral equivalent of 
war as a means for the development of character and the 
settlement of international disputes, together with the moral 
desirability of a world court, a federation or league of nations, 
and a parliament of man. (Chapter XV.) 

In relation to Political Science, the moral philosopher is con- 
cerned with the moral side of political issues. Ordinarily he 
is not interested in the details of political structure or the mi- 
nutiae of law and government. He is, however, vitally con- 
cerned with the moral ideals of which a state is an institutional 
expression, and with the morality of its undertakings. So, as 
in the case of psychology, there is no detail of political science 
or of law that might not sometime involve an important moral 
issue, and so come within the domain of ethics. As a rule, the 
author supposes, students of political ethics attach little impor- 
tance to details of political machinery. The author, for in- 
stance, finds himself somewhat indifferent to agitation regard- 
ing the respective merits of short and long ballots, law making 
by initiative and referendum or by legislatures, nomination of 
candidates for office by caucuses or by primaries, and like issues. 
Any fairly responsive form of machinery will achieve moral 
ends in a community that is morally awake; none will do so in 
one that is not. 

Social Ethics is a rather vague term, hard to distinguish from 
political ethics, which it overlaps. For that matter, all ethics 
in a broad sense are social. When used in this book in distinc- 
tion from political ethics. Social Ethics will mean the study of 
moral judgments regarding the relations of men in groups other 
than the state. Here enter the problems of distributive justice, 
e.g., whether the correct solutions imply capitahsm or col- 
lectivism. There is more wealth in existence to-day than ever 
before and persons in every class are more prosperous in mate- 
rial goods and have more opportunities for education and cul- 
ture than persons in the corresponding class ever knew in any 



THE SCOPE OF ETHICS 15 

previous period of human history. However, the distribution 
of wealth and opportunity are quite unequal and in many re- 
spects hard to justify. We shall therefore have to consider the 
ethical basis of property rights, and how present injustices can 
best be corrected. Conservatives naturally are alarmed at any 
proposals to tamper with our present economic system; since 
the present condition of national wealth could easily be dis- 
turbed for the worse, it seems to them better to be very careful 
about making changes. A theoretically more just distribution 
of the total amount of wealth that could only be brought about 
by seriously reducing its bulk might actually benefit none, and 
be harmful to most. Radicals do not hesitate. They are eager 
to try experiments along the lines of state and guild socialism, 
cooperative societies, and other schemes in order to eliminate 
the "profit motive" in which they see the root of most social 
evils, — a motive which conservatives often regard as the source 
of all national and individual prosperity. (Chapter XVI.) In 
any event, whether we are radical or conservative, we are 
forced to recognize that the various professions and forms of 
business will, at least in the immediate future, continue to go 
on much as they do to-day. The Ethics applicable to each of 
them, as now organized, accordingly is of practical interest. 
(Chapter XVII.) 

In considering such questions as these. Ethics is obviously 
dependent upon Economics. The economists can best deter- 
mine what are the laws of the production, distribution, exchange, 
and consumption of wealth. In the light of this information, 
the moral philosopher tries to decide which of the different 
economic arrangements that these laws permit would be likely 
to produce the greatest amount of good. 

Another topic in Social Ethics with which we shall be con- 
cerned is the Family, and the problems relating to it, such as 
marriage, the relations between the sexes, and the position of 
woman. Such questions need to be viewed historically. We 
must understand how and why monogamous marriage has 
superseded all other forms in the higher civilizations, before 



16 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

we can pass intelligent judgment upon proposals to alter our 
present laws and customs in any respects affecting the family. 
This is especially true regarding the rights and duties of hus- 
bands, wives, and children, the divorce problem, and our pres- 
ent standards of continence and chastity. Should women as a 
sex have the same or different rights and duties than men? 
What may women rightfully be expected to contribute to the 
solution of the problems of modern political, social, and domes- 
tic Hfe? (Chapter XVIII.) 

All problems of Political and Social Ethics are closely related 
to Sociology. So far as there is a difference between this part 
of Ethics and Sociology, it seems to be chiefly in two respects. 
First, Sociology is entirely concerned, according to some of its 
exponents, with social processes as they actually go on: it is 
purely descriptive and explanatory; it does not pass moral 
judgments. The student of ethics of course is concerned with 
moral judgments. But moral judgments are bound up with 
social processes, whether of the state, the economic order, the 
family, or other groups. It follows that the moral philosopher 
must study descriptive sociology in its general outlines. There 
are various details in this science, however, that do not con- 
cern him. Secondly, many sociologists are engaged in detailed 
surveys of social conditions in specific localities or industries. 
Such studies involve the passing of moral judgments. However, 
if the moral judgments are comparatively simple, and the work 
is mainly a matter of ascertaining facts, only a minimum of 
ethics may be involved. The moral philosopher is primarily a 
philosopher, concerned with the larger aspects of human life, 
and not with specific details. He of necessity must be a theorist 
rather than a reformer. He is confident that his knowledge of 
principles will be enlightening to reformers, he is appreciative 
of their efforts, and desirous to be of service to them, ]\Iany 
reformers are narrow and unintelligent, and so do more harm 
than good. This is often because of a lack of a thorough study 
of ethics. The chief task of the moral philosopher is to under- 
stand the human world. The reformer will do well to gain 



THE SCOPE OF ETHICS 17 

some of the understanding of the moral philosopher before he 
tries to effect sweeping changes. 

The relation of Ethics to Religion is a question that demands 
consideration in the study of some, but not all, of the divisions 
of Ethics. In Comparative Ethics we are often confronted 
by a close relationship between moral and religious evolution, 
bound up, as both are, with social evolution. For while in 
primitive society there is sometimes little connection between 
judgments of right and wrong and notions of the supernatural, 
the relationship becomes closer in later stages of development. 
The possibility of moral progress appears at times to have been 
conditioned by the question whether human notions about the 
divine could be further moralized. This is notably true of 
certain periods in ancient Israel, Greece, and Rome. The moral 
history of the Occident during the past nineteen centuries is 
closely interwoven with the history of Christianity. Again, in the 
Psychology of Ethics, the nature of religious experience in rela- 
tion to moral conduct, and of other virtues to the religious virtue 
of reverence, are important questions for the moral philosopher. 

On the other hand, in the study of contemporary Systematic, 
Political, and Social Ethics the situation is somewhat reversed. 
The moral philosopher has little in these fields to learn from the 
theologian, while the latter has much to learn from him. Re- 
ligion must sanction what is right, and forbid what is wrong. 
But to decide what is right and what is wrong must be the task 
of Ethics. Here Ethics must lead, and Religion must follow. 
At least, such has been the opinion of most writers on ethics 
during the past two centuries. 

Religion must ultimately be taken into account if we are to 
gain a comprehensive view of ethics in relation to the whole of 
human experience. The student of ethics must appraise the 
function of religion in teaching moral judgments, prompting 
moral actions, and inspiring faith in the ultimate triumph of 
moral ideals. In considerations of ethics are to be found some 
of the strongest arguments in favor of certain postulates dear to 
religion. Among such are the beliefs that we are living in a 



18 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

world order capable of realizing moral ends, that our wills are 
really free, and that we are immortal. Ethical considerations, 
at least in the author's opinion, are favorable to belief in a per- 
sonal God, who, among His other activities, has inspired men 
with a sense of the distinction between good and evil, who 
leads them to clearer understanding of this distinction, and to 
higher attainment of the good, and who reveals Himself to 
humanity in general through good men and sacred scriptures, 
and to individuals in their private devotions and participation 
in public worship. (Chapter XIX.) 

Metaphysics is the ^' study of the whole of things'^ of "first 
principles^ \ of the ''general nature of reality '\ Besides the 
metaphysical arguments for the truth of religion, derived from 
ethics, alluded to in the preceding paragraph, there are several 
general metaphysical questions which ought not to be ignored, 
even in an introductory text. Are there absolute standards of 
good and evil implied in all our moral judgments? If so, what 
are they? How explain the fact of moral evolution, and the 
largely different ideas of good and evil manifest in every age? 
Will not any standards we may set up as absolute be outgrown 
in another age, just as we have outgrown those of our ancestors? 
On the other hand, if there are no absolute, eternal, unchanging 
standards of good and evil, does it not follow that morality is 
purely subjective, a matter of taste or caprice, just as, to bor- 
row Rashdall's comparison, mustard is nice to one man and 
nasty to another? Are moral principles like those of mathe- 
matics, independent of human minds, as certain of the new 
realists have at times maintained? Or are moral principles to 
be tested by practical utilities, as pragmatists say; and if so, 
how define ''practical" and ''useful"? Or is morality an high 
order of "appearance", an important but not ultimate phase of 
reality, as certain Absolute Idealists have maintained? The be- 
ginner in Ethics deserves at least a glimpse into these and other 
profound as well as fascinating topics of metaphysical inquiry. 
(Such problems will be touched on incidentally throughout the 
volume, and more particularly in Chapters XIV and XIX.) 



THE SCOPE OF ETHICS 19 

REFERENCES 

* John Dewey and J. H. Tufts, Ethics, chap. I. 

* Warner File, Introductory Study of Ethics, chap. I. 

* W. G. Everett, Moral Values, chap. I. 

* Frank Thilly, Introduction to Ethics, chap. I. 

* S. E. Mezes, Ethics, chap. I. 

* J. A. Leighton, The Individual and the Social Order, chaps. I-IV. 

* F. C. Sharp, Ethics, chap. I. 

* H. W. Dresser, Ethics, chap. I. 

* H. W. Wright, Self-Realization, Part One, chaps. I, H. 

* T. De Laguna, Introduction to the Science of Ethics, chaps. I, H. 
Friedrich Paulsen, System of Ethics, chap. I. 

J. S. Mackenzie, Manual of Ethics, Introduction. 

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book I. 

James Seth, A Study of Ethical Principles, Introduction. 

* Asterisks indicate references that are probably best suited to beginners. 
The others are more advanced, but not beyond the grip of some undergraduates. 
The references on this page deal with the definition and scope of Ethics. Refer- 
ences to treatments of the different divisions of Ethics will be found appended 
to later chapters. More advanced references will be found in the Notes at the 
end of the volume. 



PART I 
COMPARATIVE ETHICS 

DIVISION A 
SOCIAL AND MORAL EVOLUTION 



CHAPTER II 

SOCIAL EVOLUTION 

Comparative Ethics is as important for the moral philos- 
opher as comparative anatomy is for the biologist. A knowl- 
edge of the different types of morality that mankind has recog- 
nized in theory and endeavored to observe in practice affords 
a richer understanding of human nature with its limitations 
and possibilities. In this chapter we shall consider the general 
types of social organization through which the race has passed, 
and in the following chapter we shall observe the corresponding 
steps in moral evolution. These chapters will necessarily have 
to be somewhat abstract, since they are intended to apply in a 
general way to all human history. Chapter IV, dealing with 
the ancient Hebrews, will be more specific, and afford an illus- 
tration of the moral evolution of a particular people in certain 
stages. Chapters II, HI, and IV (constituting Division A of 
Part I) it is hoped, will afford some idea of social and moral 
evolution in general. In Chapters V-VII (Division B of Part 
I) will be sketched the phases of the ethical thought of Europe 
which are responsible for most of the moral judgments that 
constitute the conscience of the typical occidental man or woman 
of the twentieth century. 

I. Introduction to the Outline of Social Evolution 

It is safe to assume that the most simply organized and in 
other respects least advanced, of the savage tribes now in 
existence are fairly representative of the earlier stages of social 
evolution, which preceded the periods covered by recorded 
history.^ Accordingly, the first of the three principal types of 
social organization here to be noticed, that of Kinship, is de- 
rived from the literature of anthropology. This is in part true 

23 



24 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

of the second type also, which is based upon Authority; but 
while this latter type had its beginnings in prehistoric ages, it 
has continued throughout most of the history of civilized na- 
tions. The third type, that based on Citizenship, holds only 
for the comparatively few civilized peoples, ancient and mod- 
ern, who have progressed furthest in social evolution. 

Many peoples are to be found in transitional stages be- 
tween one type and another, or between two of the three sub- 
types into which the relation of Kinship is divided. Many, if 
not most present day savages in the kinship relation manifest 
phases of both mother right and father right in their institu- 
tions and customs. Moreover, when a succeeding type of social 
organization has become dominant, it never has obliterated 
the earlier types, whose rudiments and survivals persist even 
in the highest civilizations of the present time. 

The reader needs to be warned that classifications of human 
societies, institutions, beliefs, and customs of every kind, are 
always more or less arbitrary. Such classifications inevitably 
overlook many interesting and important details. For instance, 
American Indians and Australian aborigines alike come under 
Kinship organization; Frenchmen and Americans alike enjoy 
Citizenship. Such classifications tell us nothing of innumerable 
significant details in which peoples of the same type differ. 

Moreover, social progress never moves in a straight line; it 
moves by winding curves and zigzags, and experiences number- 
less setbacks and retreats. The outline of social evolution set 
forth in this chapter might be compared with a large scale wall 
map, on which the general course of a river is indicated, but 
the minuter twistings and turnings have been left out. 

11. The Relation of Kinship 

The most primitive form of social organization of which we 
have evidence in contemporary savage life is based upon the 
relation of Kinship. The memhers of the social group are, or at 
least believe themselves to he, blood relatives; this explains their 
form of social organization. The group, in the most primitive 



SOCIAL EVOLUTION 25 

instances, is quite small, only a few families living in proximity. 
In more developed types, the Kinship groups sometimes have 
included larger populations scattered over wider areas. Most 
of the members of such a group are related in actual physical 
descent. But the group often includes other persons, captured 
in raids, subjugated in war, adopted, or for some other cause 
incorporated in it. In the course of time, myths and legends 
may arise, which attribute common ancestors to the whole 
group, and celebrate their exploits. Magical and religious cer- 
emonials strengthen the consciousness of the Kinship relation. 
Whatever there may be of governmental or social control over 
individuals, means of ascertaining justice,, methods of carrying 
on warfare, processes of an economic character (hunting, pas- 
toral, agricultural, industrial) or magical rites and religious 
observances, — all imply the relation of Kinship. All the rights 
and duties that individuals have with relation to one another 
are bound up with this principle. 

Under the relation of Kinship, we shall need to consider 
three different subtypes: the Primitive Horde, the Maternal 
System, and the Paternal System. These are believed to fol- 
low one another in time, in the order indicated. Many Kin- 
ship groups, it should again be pointed out, fall between these 
subtypes, in some respects resembling one, and in some an- 
other.^ 

III. The Primitive Horde 

In the subtype of Kinship organization designated as the 
Primitive Horde, all social organization is restricted to the single 
family (husband, wife or wives, and children) or to a group of a 
few such families living in the same vicinity. 

People with this form of Kinship organization are primitive 
indeed. They subsist upon what smallgame or fish they can 
capture with their bows and arrows, and what plant and animal 
food they can gather with their hands, or uproot with crudely 
sharpened sticks, — such as berries, roots, leaves, bark, wild 
honey, and insects. They live in caves, trees, or crude shelters 



26 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

of boughs and leaves that serve for httle more than protection 
from the wind. Such are the Pygmies of the Congo, the Negri- 
toes of the Phihppines, the Senangs and Senoi of the Malay- 
Peninsula, the natives of the Andaman Islands, the lowliest of 
the natives of Tierra del Fuego, and the Rock Veddahs of 
Ceylon. 

Perhaps the most attractive of these peoples from a moral 
standpoint are the Rock Veddahs. These are a small folk in 
numbers, perhaps two thousand altogether. They cannot 
count, do not know the year, have no names for days or months, 
and, in general, manifest a very low order of intelligence. 
Each family lives by itself, upon its own hunting ground; but 
during the wet season two or three such families may inhabit 
a common cave. A dispute between members of different 
families may be fought out, or some of the leading men or 
women may act as peacemakers. There is no group organiza- 
tion to adjudicate disputes; and, of course, no ruler of any kind. 
Yet they recognize certain virtues and customs as morally 
obligatory. They are strictly monogamous, and have a saying 
that nothing but death parts a husband and wife. They are 
truthful, unaggressive, hospitable, sympathetic to strangers in 
need, grateful, plucky in fighting, and kind to animals. They 
respect the property of strangers as well as of one another. 
They have some fear of magic. They engage in a ceremonial 
dance about an arrow, which may be a rudimentary religion. ^ 

IV. The Maternal System 

A much more common form of social organization in the 
savage world is the Maternal System or Mother Right (Mutter- 
recht: formerly but erroneously called the "matriarchate", for 
the women do not rule the group). In this system, social 
organization is built about maternal relationships. Children and 
their mothers live with, or under the protection of, their mother's 
brothers or her maternal uncles. When a man marries, his 
wife is still regarded as belonging to her own people. In a few 
extreme cases he stays for the most part with his own mother 



SOCIAL EVOLUTION 27 

and sisters, and merely visits his wife and children from time 
to time, feeling more closely bound to his mother and sisters 
and his sisters' children. Whatever hereditary possessions or 
titles he may have, pass from him at death to his brothers, or 
to his sisters' sons. His own children are reckoned as members 
of their mother's family, and inherit from her brothers. 

A phenomenon that usually accompanies the maternal sys- 
tem is Totemism. Members of a particular totem believe that there 
is some kind of close affinity between them and an '' emblem" 
(a specific kind of animal, plant, or material object). This 
emblem gives its name to the totem. Members of the same 
totem feel strong ties of loyalty to one another. Fine distinc- 
tions of grammar do not exist in primitive tongues, and a man 
says that he "is" a Fox, a Leopard, or an Emu. He of course 
knows that he is not really an animal, and that no animal is a 
man. His rational and linguistic powers are not sufficient to 
enable him to make more precise the close relationship that he 
firmly though rather mystically feels with the nonhuman 
members of the totem. As men become more reflective, and 
seek reasons for things, some explanation is likely to appear; 
e.g., myths may arise, narrating how the living human and non- 
human members of the totem have been descended from an 
original ancestor.^ 

Their totemic relationship is thought to give the men of 
each totem peculiar powers. The animals give important in- 
formation to the men of their totem. The men of a totem are 
supposed to be more able than other men to snare the animals 
of the totem. Some of the Australian aborigines believe that 
the men of each totem through elaborate ceremonies imitative 
in dress and behavior of the totemic animal or plant, can in- 
crease its fertility, and so better the food supply of human 
beings. The totemic ceremonies are a kind of primitive co- 
operative undertaking in which the men of each totem profit 
by the work done by men of other totems. To eat of the food 
of one's own totem, except on special ceremonial occasions, is 
regarded by the native Australian with something of our horror 



28 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

of cannibalism. It would be sure to work great harm on man- 
kind, so close is the tie between the human and nonhuman 
members of the totem. 

The close relationship between members of a totem is further 
illustrated by the fact that all over the world except where 
totemism shows signs of decay, members of the same totem 
must not intermarry. The relationship between the men and 
women of a totem seems so close that sexual relations between 
them arouse a horror similar to that which we feel at incest. 
So such offenses meet with death inflicted by the concerted 
action of the group. This holds true of tribes who leave the 
punishment of ordinary adultery to the initiative of the injured 
husband as an affair of private and not of general concern. 

The maternal system and totemism mark a decided advance 
beyond the isolation of the primitive horde. Families are 
allied in marriage with others living at a distance. Cooperation 
over larger areas is made possible, and more progress can be 
made in all human activities. This is evident, even in Australia, 
where the general industrial and economic condition remains 
very low, where during winter the unclad natives shiver in 
caves or under trees, behind lean-tos of boughs, and subsist on 
what food they can gather with their hands or bring down with 
their boomerangs. For these natives have developed elaborate 
initiation and totemic ceremonies, which gather together people 
living at great distances, preserve and pass on to another gen- 
eration traditions that they deem sacred, and so strengthen 
common social consciousness and good will. 

In other parts of the world, more substantial advances have 
usually been made under mother right and totemism. Per- 
manent dwellings have been erected, clothing manufactured 
from skins, and beginnings made in tilling the soil as well as in 
herding sheep and cattle. Festal occasions, both in times of 
peace and war, give rise to song and dance, commemorative of 
the exploits of their ancestors. The fine arts thus have their 
beginning. Ceremonies are conducted by old men, or specially 
trained medicine men, having for their aim the securing of 



SOCIAL EVOLUTION 29 

approved social and personal ends through supernatural assist- 
ance. Thus religion begins. 

The most successful development under the maternal sys- 
tem and totemism known in history is the case of the famous 
League of the Iroquois, a federation of American Indians which 
came into existence about 1570, and continued to function suc- 
cessfully until after the American Revolution. The League 
originally consisted of five tribes or so-called "nations", — the 
Mohawks, Onondagas, Senecas, Oneidas, and Cayugas; to 
which a sixth, the Tuscaroras, later was added. This federa- 
tion brought under a common government a total population 
of at least fifteen thousand persons, belonging to five or six 
separate and warlike tribes. The League was remarkably suc- 
cessful in maintaining internal peace and security from external 
attack. It was able to hold an area which usually extended in 
all directions somewhat beyond the boundaries of the present 
state of New York, and even at one time spread from the west 
of New England to the Mississippi river, and from the St. 
Lawrence to the Tennessee river. 

Each of the Iroquois tribes originally seems to have consisted 
of eight totems — Wolf, Bear, Beaver, Turtle; Deer, Snipe, 
Heron, and Hawk. The first four mentioned constituted one 
moiety, and the latter four a second moiety. An individual 
originally had to marry outside of his own totem and moiety. 
Later on, some of the tribes lost part of their totems, and the 
distinction between the moieties disappeared; but marriage 
between two persons of the same totem was always forbidden. 
Each totem of each tribe had one or more sachems who rep- 
resented it in the Council of the League. A sachem was ordi- 
narily elected for life, and at his death the members of his tribe 
and totem elected a successor, usually one of his brothers, or a 
son of one of his sisters. Membership in the totem followed the 
mother, so that a child belonged to the same totem as his or 
her mother. The Council of the League had full power to de- 
clare war and to make peace, to send and receive embassies, 
make treaties, and govern other Indian tribes that had come 



30 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

under their rule through conquest. It ordinarily exercised its 
influence to maintain peace among the member tribes and with 
the external world. The office of sachem had high prestige, and 
was surrounded by impressive ceremonial. 

Lewis H. Morgan, the historian of the League of the Iroquois, 
gives it too much praise when he says that it was "the means of 
effecting the most perfect union of separate nations ever de- 
vised by the wit of man."^ However, it seems evident that the 
Iroquois could rightly claim that "the great object of their con- 
federacy was peace — to break up the spirit of perpetual war- 
fare, which had wasted the red race from age to age."^ The 
Iroquois recommended to our forefathers a union similar to 
their own, as early as 1775. Morgan says that Benjamin 
Franklin's plan for American union was directly inspired by 
observation of the Iroquois constitution. Morgan's editor 
adds that for twelve years, under the Articles of Confederation, 
the government of the United States (called by the Iroquois 
"The Thirteen Fires") was similar to the Iroquois plan.'' 

The strength of the League was due to the totemic tie. The 
Mohawk of the Wolf totem recognized the Seneca of the Wolf 
totem as his brother; in fact, every member of the same totem, 
in whatever tribe, was as much his brother or sister as if children 
of the same mother. This held the tribes together, made them 
reluctant to fight one another, and quick to come to one an- 
other's support when a common danger threatened.^ 

While the maternal system and totemism were decided ad- 
vances beyond the primitive horde, their powers of expansion 
and coherence were limited. There is no other case on record, 
so far as the author knows, where so large a number of persons 
were held together in any coherent social organization under 
the maternal system as the League of the Iroquois, and the 
number in this case was certainly not over twenty-five thou- 
sand.^ A local community composed of members of different 
totems lacked complete coherence; each person was subject to 
two loyalties — one to his local group or tribe, and one to his 
totem — and these might conflict. The individual family lacked 



SOCIAL EVOLUTION 31 

sufficient stability; a woman was not always pe-rmanently tied 
to her husband in a system where she and her children had 
closer interests in common with her brother. There was no 
great stimulus to personal initiative in an economic order where 
a man was not responsible for his own wife and children. This 
economic system was a close approximation to a communism. ^° 
It, to be sure, guaranteed that all had a share in whatever the 
men brought in from the chase, or the women were able to raise 
in their little fields. No one was famished when others had 
plenty. But for all to be on the verge of starvation was not 
unusual. Early communism was an equality in poverty. Serfs 
and slaves under civilization have rarely not been better off 
than the members of a savage commune. For these and other 
reasons, the Maternal system was sooner or later replaced 
everywhere that society made a substantial advance, by the 
Paternal system. ^^ 

V. The Paternal System 

Under the Paternal System (Father Right, Vaterrecht) social 
organization rests upon the relation between a father and his chil- 
dren. The father governs his wife and children, but in turn 
obeys his own father, oldest brother, or other head of the 
larger family group. So this system may properly be called 
the Patriarchate. Husband, wife (or wives) and children live 
together, children inherit their father's name, status, titles, 
possessions. So long as a man lives, his sons and sons' sons and 
their families (with the exception of married daughters and 
grand-daughters who belong to their husband's families) consti- 
tute a "greater family". After his death, the greater family in 
some cases tends to dissolve, but in others continues to hold 
together as a clan, under the headship of a surviving brother or 
son of the deceased patriarch. Under this system, the wife 
tends to be regarded as the property of her husband. His title 
to her has been established by the payment to the head of the 
family of sheep or cattle, by service in case he is too ppor to 
buy her (as in the Biblical story of Jacob serving for Rachel), by 



32 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

exchange of one of his sisters for her, or by capture in war or 
upon a raid. 

Economic advance as a rule is more rapid under the paternal 
system than under earlier forms of social organization. In 
the most primitive stages of father right all the descendants of 
a common paternal ancestor may live together or in close prox- 
imity as a clan, owning land and cattle in common. Com- 
munisms of this kind have been found in connection with the 
paternal system in India, China, Russia, ancient Greece and 
Rome, and Wales. The general tendency has been, however, 
for communism to yield gradually to private ownership, so 
that a man becomes economically responsible for his own wife, 
children, aged parents, and unmarried sisters, and for them 
alone. The paternal system stimulates economic progress 
because men feel more incentive to work to support their own 
wives and children, rather than their married sisters and their 
sisters' children. So men are less disposed to make hunting 
and fishing their sole peaceful occupations, and devote them- 
selves to more productive agricultural and pastoral activities. 

Under the paternal system the administration of justice by 
the head of the family marks an advance. Internal order is 
better secured. The family stands solidly together against the 
outside world. If one of its members commits an offense, his 
relatives are in a measure responsible with him. If vengeance 
cannot be had upon an offender, his kinsmen may be punished 
in his place by the kin of the injured man. This notion of col- 
lective responsibility is wholesome at the stage in which it first 
appears; then it indicates moral progress; only at a higher point 
of development does it give way to individual responsibility 
as we know it to-day. 

The paternal system does not so unequivocally make a for- 
ward step in the position of women. Under the maternal system 
women are not the chattels of their husbands; women probably 
have more to say in choosing husbands and divorcing them, and 
they certainly enjoy more freedom in their dail}^ life in many 
ways. Sometimes, as in certain of the American Indians, women 



SOCIAL EVOLUTION 33 

have a little to say in the government of the tribe. On the other 
hand, under the paternal system a woman is the property of 
her father (or her brother, if her father is dead) before she is 
married, and of her husband after her marriage. Yet there are 
compensations, even for women, under the paternal system. 
The very fact that she has been bought with a price leads her 
husband to regard her as of some value. He appreciates her 
industry, for in the earlier stages of father right she continues 
to do much of the work. He assures himself of his wife's 
chastity, which he could not do so easily under the maternal 
system; and he sees that his daughters are continent, so that 
they may bring him a higher bride price when they marry. 
Warmer affection springs up in the breast of the savage man 
for a family who are his property, and so belong to him and are 
in his power. Women respect themselves more, as the men set 
higher prices upon them, and esteem them for their industry 
and chastity. They share in the greater economic prosperity. 
On the whole, then, it is a question whether the position of 
women is not improved under father right. 

Survivals of the paternal system are observable in modern 
laws and customs. A wife and children bear the name of the 
husband and father. They ordinarily live with him, and he is 
responsible for their economic support. They inherit his 
property. Until within a very few generations he exercised 
much authority in the home, and was in far more than a titular 
sense, the "head of the house". 

VI. The Relation of Authority 

This type of social organization follows that of Kinship, 
which it partly supplants, and on which it partly superimposes 
itself. The essential principle of the relation of Authority is, 
that social and political obligations rest upon the commands of a 
ruler or ruling class. It is the duty of all to obey the ruler implic- 
itly. Distinctions of right and wrong rest largely upon his will. 
To be sure, he may not be able to alter immemorial customs 
and written laws.^^ But his is the power, and perhaps the duty, 



34 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

to enforce laws and customs, and to interpret their significance 
in doubtful cases. This form of social organization began be- 
fore man had risen above the level of savagery, and it has pre- 
vailed among most civilized peoples until recent centuries. 
Among savages, such despotisms as Dahomey, Ashanti, and 
Uganda (prior to European control) are good illustrations. The 
early empires of antiquity, like Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, 
and Persia, are illustrations from civilized peoples, as are also 
the feudal kingdoms of medieval Europe and modern Japan 
(prior to 1871). The "benevolent despotisms" of the seven- 
teenth and eighteenth centuries in Europe, especially those of 
France, Prussia, Austria, and Russia, manifest this principle 
at its highest level. 

How Kinship groups passed into this very different form of 
social relationship is not difficult to understand. Conflicts be- 
tween Kinship groups in a locality became frequent and severe. 
More discipline and better military organization were needed 
than councils of patriarchal chiefs and temporarily chosen com- 
manders could afford. A successful military leader in a time 
of emergency assumed absolute control with general approval. 
When victory ensued, and the enemy were defeated, he became 
a popular hero, able to retain his military authority, especially 
if the general security might again be threatened. Such a hero 
could become a king. The defeated enemy might not all be 
massacred. Some might be spared, but reduced to servitude 
or serfdom, and obliged to contribute to the economic support 
of the victorious group or its rulers. 

As contrasted with Kinship, in which there are no marked 
social distinctions, at least four classes appear early in the de- 
velopment of Authority : the king and royal family; the military 
and other favorites on whom the king relies and who with their 
families constitute the nohility; the ordinary members of the 
conquering people, now the common "people; and the conquered 
peoples who occupy a decidedly inferior position as serfs, slaves, 
low castes or outcastes. A priestly class is often recognized, and 
given special distinctions and privileges. 



SOCIAL EVOLUTION 35 

Prior to the invention of writing, there were hmits to the 
area and population that could be successfully governed within 
a single kingdom. Once this invention was made, civilization, 
in distinction from savagery, may be said to have begun. 
Rulers could send messages to generals in the field and governors 
in distant provinces. Precedents could be recorded, and the 
experience of the past could be more fully and accurately pre- 
served. The production of literature was stimulated. Recorded 
history had its beginning. 

With the expansion that writing and the beginning of civili- 
zation made possible, a further development in social organiza- 
tion sometimes followed. Considerable areas were conquered, 
and generals subordinate to the king were made governors of 
these districts. Being at considerable distances from the seat 
of royal authority, however, the generals ruled their provinces 
in partial independence. They sent in tribute and recruits to 
the army, and obeyed general instructions, and that was about 
all. Thus the original king became a "great king", or "king 
of kings", with enhanced wealth, dignity, and power. 

In such a vast kingdom or empire, the conquered peoples 
often were left comparatively unmolested in the forms of local 
Kinship organization that they had known before their con- 
quest. The central government protected them from external 
invasion, in return for levies of taxes and recruits. Otherwise 
it interfered little with their customs and institutions. The 
Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Roman, and successive 
Moslem empires in the Near East are said to have left local 
patriarchal village organizations comparatively intact during 
the past three thousand years. 

The authority of the king originally rested upon his popu- 
larity and prestige with reference to the conquering people 
whom he led to victory, and upon force in the case of conquered 
folk. Partly to maintain his power, and partly to serve his 
people, the king endeavored to keep order within his domains. 
Quarrels among his subjects, he decreed, should no longer issue 
in prolonged fights among quarreling Kinship groups often 



36 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

resulting in blood feuds with great loss of life and economic 
disturbance. All were commanded to keep the king's peace, 
and bring their disputes to his courts. It often took many- 
generations before the kings could establish the full authority 
of their own courts of law, but ultimately they succeeded. 
While this evolution was going on, the royal authority became 
strengthened by the sanctions of religion. In ancient Egypt the 
king became a god; in Japan he still is believed to be a descend- 
ant from the gods; in ancient Israel and medieval Europe he 
was the Lord's anointed, and ruled by divine right. 

As laws and justice came to be increasingly associated with 
royal administration, a further evolution took place. It became 
the duty of subjects to obey the king because he stood for 
justice and right. Instead of mere popularity and prestige, or 
brute force, or superstitions about his divine nature and author- 
ity, the chief sanction for obedience became moral. Such an 
evolution in the attitude of subjects toward their king impHed 
a corresponding change in his attitude toward them. He now 
saw it to be his duty to exercise his authority in the interests 
of right; he had obligations to his subjects; in a sense he was 
their servant. Thus the classical sages were constantly in- 
structing the rulers of China regarding their duties. Nor did 
the Church allow the rulers of medieval Europe to be ignorant 
of their responsibilities. Gradually the laws assumed in some 
measure an authority superior to the will of the king himself. 
At first this was largely due to religious sanctions, the law 
code supposed to have been given by a god to an earlier king 
or lawgiver. In civilized times, after jurists had evolved prin- 
ciples of law and developed them rationally, a prince would 
hesitate to set them aside by arbitrary decrees. Onlj^ when 
conditions had changed, or some real emergency had arisen, 
could he find moral and popular support for sweeping changes 
in legislation. 

In its last stages, kings ruling by Authority came to believe 
it their primary duty to promote the welfare of their subjects. 
Their authority had finally come to rest morally and physically 



SOCIAL EVOLUTION 37 

upon the consent of their people. So long as their rule (or that 
of their ministers) was efficient, the royal authority remained 
undisturbed, and even became strengthened. Such was the 
condition in England under the Tudors, in France under 
Louis XIII and Louis XIV, in Prussia under the abler Hohen- 
zollerns like Frederick the Great, in Russia under Peter the 
Great and Catherine the Great. However, when the relation of 
Authority had come to owe its sanctions chiefly to moral serv- 
ice, mankind was almost ready to pass into a new form of 
social organization. When the royal administration became 
inefficient and unjust, as in England under the Stuarts, or in 
France under Louis XVI, a revolution was inevitable. Under 
such conditions the people came to believe that they could best 
decide questions of their own welfare. They deposed their 
king or curtailed his authority. The people made many mis- 
takes, and for a time their condition was probably worse than 
before. But ultimately they learned in some measure to govern 
themselves, and the relation of Authority was successfully re- 
placed by that of Citizenship. 

The disadvantages of the principle of Authority over that of 
Kinship which it replaced were numerous. The rule of the 
early despot was always arbitrary and often cruel. The rulers 
of Dahomey and Ashanti capriciously killed and enslaved their 
subjects, seized their wives and daughters and confiscated their 
goods. Instead of the comparative equality of all people under 
Kinship, social classes appeared. If there were large conquests, 
like those of the early empires of antiquity, the mass of the 
population consisted of tributary peoples who had lost their 
independence and become subjugated to an alien rule that at 
best did not wholly understand them, and was more than likely 
to exploit them cruelly. The Pharaohs forced their subject 
peoples under the lash to build the pyramids. The great monu- 
ments of Nineveh and Babylon were built in the same way. 
The lot of the masses — villeins and serfs — in medieval Europe 
was wretched in the extreme. 

Under civilization, the system of Authority develops traits 



38 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

characteristic of its military nature. In a time of actual or 
threatened warfare, all other considerations give way to the 
public security. Every one must cheerfully bear his part of a 
crushing burden of taxation; or, at the government's call, leave 
his family to shift as well as it can for itself, while he serves in 
the army. Military officers constitute a superior caste, to 
whom deference must be shown at all times, and to whose 
domineering ways submission must be complete and respectful. 
A despotic government must always be on its guard against 
intrigue and revolt. Everything and everybody must there- 
fore be regulated. There can be only such freedom in religion 
as the state thinks expedient. Nothing can be published in 
the press or spoken in public gatherings that the officials deem 
prejudicial to the interest of the state. Educational institu- 
tions must be carefully supervised to assure that they are 
teaching nothing seditious. Industry, trade, and agriculture 
are all regulated by the bureaucracy, so that freedom of initia- 
tive is hampered, while privileges and monopolies are granted 
to royal favorites. Voluntary associations even for the most 
harmless purposes are regarded with governmental suspicion, 
and it may be dangerous to belong to them. Fearful of treason, 
the government may rely on an elaborate system of espionage; 
it may be unsafe to express a mild criticism of existing institu- 
tions to one's neighbor, who may prove to be a paid govern- 
mental spy. Minute details of living are subjected to law, and 
the slightest infractions are punished with pitiless severity. 
But of course, a strong and efficient despotic government will 
not usually be at war on an extensive scale, and if its rule is 
just and its people prosperous, it can with safety allow more 
individual liberty. It is only while carrying on war, or when 
in decay and fearful of being overthrown, that authoritarian 
governments carry oppressive measures close to the limit of 
human endurance. 

On the whole, the relation of Authoritj'^ was a decided ad- 
vance upon that of Kinship. Without it, civilization could not 
have arisen. And without civilization, free institutions such 



SOCIAL EVOLUTION 39 

as we know to-day under Citizenship could never have come into 
existence. As w€ have seen, under Authority larger areas and 
populations were brought together under a firm common rule, 
than could have occurred under Kinship. Order was usually 
maintained within conquered areas, and in the long run wars 
became fewer. Over large areas homes were safer from devasta- 
tion than ever before. In place of frequent raids and plunder- 
ings, with blood feuds and other family quarrels, firm rulers 
afforded more lasting security. This more than offset heavy 
taxation and the destructiveness of the extensive wars that 
were occasionally fought with rival kingdoms and empires. 

Under these circumstances a larger economic development 
became possible. Men cultivated their farms more thoroughly 
as they felt sure that they would enjoy the fruits of their labor. 
Trade routes were opened and exchange of commodities over 
vast distances was effected by ships and caravans. Progress 
in the industrial arts became more rapid. With trade and 
industry developed, more wealth came into existence, and a 
leisure class emerged, — a class that did not have to devote all 
its energies to warfare and making a living. This class had time 
to further the fine arts, partly by their own efforts, but more by 
patronage of those with talent. Thus, in Greece, the Homeric 
bards developed epic poetry. Travelers visited distant lands 
to observe other civilizations, and learned to criticize their 
own beliefs regarding nature and human institutions. So Greek 
philosophy and science were born under the principle of Au- 
thority, and the foundations were then laid for the brilliant 
developments that came after the Greeks had entered the rela- 
tion of Citizenship. While Greece is the best illustration, the 
rise of economic prosperity, the emergence of a leisure class, 
and the beginnings of the fine arts took place to some extent 
under Authority in all of the early empires — Egypt, Babylonia, 
Phoenicia, Persia, and little Israel. 

The economic development that preceded the rise of civiliza- 
tion and made it possible, was based to a very large extent on 
forced labor. Civilization could have come in no other way. 



40 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

Before the invention of large machines not enough wealth 
could be produced to maintain a cultivated class except by the 
toil of the masses, who only shared to a limited extent in the 
higher standards of living which their work made possible. 
Men just emerging from savagery would not of their own 
initiative have been willing to work continuously enough to 
maintain a high standard of living, even if they had shared 
more fully in it. Civilization is made possible only by continu- 
ous work at monotonous tasks. So the principle of Authority 
gave men discipline in economic production, and a cruel but 
necessary training in obedience. 

In the political sphere the role of Authority in evolution is 
equally, and for our purposes, even more significant. The king, 
his courts and army, learned to make and enforce laws, and the 
rest of the people learned to obey them. It is easier to lay down 
laws for other people to obey, than it is to obey them oneself; 
and it is easier to obey rules that -another imposes upon one 
than it is to obey the commands that one lays down upon one- 
self. So the relation of Authority had to precede that of 
Citizenship. However, the time came when men learned to 
legislate for themselves, and to revere and obey their own laws. 
Then the era of freedom under Citizenship began. 

VII. The Relation of Citizenship 

The relation of Citizenship is not necessarily based upon ties 
of kinship, nor upon obedience to the will of a ruler or of a 
ruling class; although a state with free citizenship is more likely 
to prosper if its population is homogeneous in race, and if it is 
well trained in obedience and respect for legal authority. The 
essential thing about the relation of Citizenship is, that the 
members of a free state directly or through their representatives, 
make and administer the laws that they obey. It is a government 
in some sense "of the people, by the people, and for the people". 
The people are more nearly upon a plane of political and social 
equality than in the relation of Authority, although class and 
race distinctions may survive to a limited extent, especially if 



SOCIAL EVOLUTION 41 

they are thought to serve a useful purpose, and to be morally 
justified. There is larger recognition of the individual than in 
the relations of Kinship and Authority. Statesmen realize 
that individual citizens have diverse interests and talents; 
effort is made to respect their rights, and to give them freedom 
of opportunity. Such individualism implies that the individual 
is free to think, speak, and act for himself. He may freely criti- 
cize existing institutions, and advocate their modification by 
lawful means. 

On the other hand, the individual citizen must obey and re- 
spect the laws which he and his fellow citizens have made. He 
may emigrate, and transfer his allegiance to another state. But 
so long as he remains within the domain of a state of which he 
is a citizen, he is morally and legally hound to be loyal in times of 
peace and war and to seek to promote the common good. The 
"common good" consists first, of those interests of individual 
citizens that can best be secured by the state for all — defense 
from foreign invasion, law and order within the state itself, 
security of life, liberty, and property, and the like. It may also 
include whatever other undertakings for the public welfare may 
be agreed upon: the maintenance of temples and public wor- 
ship for the welfare of the state, and of great public dramatic, 
literary, musical and athletic festivals (as in ancient Athens); 
or a great educational system including elementary, secondary, 
and higher liberal and technical schools of every description, 
and various public utilities; whatever the citizens believe should 
be undertaken by the state for the promotion of their intellec- 
tual, spiritual, or physical welfare. It will be convenient to 
employ the term "free" to designate states and citizens living 
in the relation of Citizenship. From what has been said, it 
will readily be seen that they are free in many respects not 
characteristic of other forms of social organization. 

The best examples of the relation of Citizenship are the city- 
states of ancient Greece, the "free cities" of the middle ages, 
and the city-states of the Italian Renaissance, on the one hand; 
and, on the other, the self-governing national states of the 



42 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

modern world. The city-state of antiquity was limited in area — 
a city or town, the surrounding country, possibly colonies at a 
distance. The citizens were only a minority of the population. 
A more numerous inferior class engaged in manual labor and 
shared little in the "common good" afforded to the citizens. 
Such city-states gave their citizens larger freedom and op- 
portunity for self-expression than had ever before been pos- 
sible; while Athens made the greatest original contributions to 
literature, art, architecture, and philosophy of any one state in 
all history. The ancient city-states did not endure permanently 
because they were incapable of growth beyond a limited extent. 
Lacking our modern means of communication and transporta- 
tion over vast distances, and our devices for government 
through representatives, they proved ineffective when they 
became too large for a considerable proportion of the citizens 
to be able to come together in a single public meeting and 
deliberate upon the public interest. So the Greek city-states 
weakened one another in wars due to lack of understanding, 
and ultimately became incorporated in the Macedonian and 
subsequent empires at the cost of most of the ideals of Citizen- 
ship and reversion to Authority. 

Rome was a city-state that through successive conquests 
ultimately gained dominion over the entire western civilized 
world. This expansion saved the Romans from conquest by a 
foreign state ; but they were unable to govern their vast empire 
in such a manner as to conserve their own freedom as citizens. 
They had to revert largely to an authoritarian system, and 
hand over the rule to the Csesars. However, the ancient ideals 
of Citizenship were not wholly forgotten even under these, 
circumstances. Creative genius in most fields disappeared 
with the loss of civic freedom, but the culture of the past was 
appreciated and conserved. On the whole the Roman imperial 
rule was beneficent, protecting its subjects, affording them a 
better administration of law than they had previously known, 
and in time extending to them what remnants of the rights of 
citizenship the Romans themselves still enjoyed. With the 



SOCIAL EVOLUTION 43 

fall of the empire, a complete reversion to Authority was in- 
evitable; the feudal system presently developed. The Church, 
however, survived; a little of civic freedom remained in the 
organization of her clergy, and her monasteries at least pre- 
served in ancient manuscripts the classical literature of the 
ancient city-states. 

Thus the modern revival of the ideals of Citizenship, begin- 
ning with the Renaissance, was rendered possible. In modern 
times civic ideals have developed within larger political units 
than the ancient city-states. Our national states are therefore 
stronger to resist attack from without, and they are not so 
greatly threatened with faction from within. Our higher civili- 
zation is the consequence of modern science and mechanical 
inventions. Since the invention of the printing press, books 
have become more plentiful, making it possible to give an ele- 
mentary education to the entire population, and a higher educa- 
tion to larger numbers than was ever possible in the past. 
Machinery makes it no longer necessary that a large servile 
population should do all the heavy work and live in poverty to 
maintain a comparative few in the privileges of Citizenship. 
The device of representative government makes it possible for 
a nation to enjoy self-government without a convocation of all 
its citizens in a single public assembly. Better means of com- 
munication allow all the citizens to gain some appreciation of 
issues and of the personalities of leading candidates for office. 
Notwithstanding all the evils of modern propagandism, it is 
probably safe to say that the average American citizen, casting 
his ballot on a national election day with his fellow citizens 
spread over a vast continent, votes as intelligently as did the 
average Athenian citizen who attended the civic assembly in 
person. 

Two serious problems confront national states under Citi- 
zenship to-day. The first arises from the fact that not all the 
world at the present time is as yet capable of self-government 
under Citizenship. Most of the population of the earth is still 
living in less advanced forms of social organization, extending 



44 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

clear back to the crudest and earliest of all, the Primitive Horde. 
Whether all men are capable through a long process of educa- 
tion of finally arriving at the level of Citizenship, or whether 
many peoples are too limited in natural mental capacities ever 
to advance far beyond their present condition is a question to 
which anthropologists and psychologists are as yet unable to 
give a definite answer. At any rate, for a long time to come, 
many peoples will have to remain subject to Authority, whether 
exercised by native rulers, or by administrators sent out to 
them by modern national states now under Citizenship. In 
the latter case, it is now generally recognized as the duty, and 
notwithstanding many abuses it is in the main the practice, of a 
modern national state to govern subject races for their own good. 
The natural resources of a subject country should be, and now 
often are, exploited so as to benefit the native population. To 
the natives should be given as many opportunities of education 
in schools and participation in the political administration and 
economic development of their country as their experience and 
real capacities make practicable. 

The second serious problem that confronts modern national 
states under Citizenship is that of international relations. Can 
our modern free states reach some form of mutual understand- 
ing and cooperation? Can they learn to settle their disputes 
by agreement, and to harmonize their national, cultural, and 
economic aspirations, so that they can all progress peaceably? 
Or are our modern national states destined to destroy one an- 
other in wars, as did the free city-states of ancient Greece? 
Should the latter occur, a partial or complete reversion to the 
relation of Authority would be inevitable. But the hope is 
that some form of Internationalism will be evolved that will 
conserve the freedom and integrity of the national states now 
in the relation of Citizenship, eliminate destructive economic 
and military competitions, afford civic rights to all races and 
nations capable of using them, and teach to all men of all 
races loyalty to a common, universal, and harmonious Hu- 
manity. 



SOCIAL EVOLUTION 45 

REFERENCES 
(to Chapters II and III) 

L. T. Hobhouse, Morals in Evolution, Part I, chaps. I, II. Social 

Evolution and Political Theory. Social Development. 
F. Miiller-Lyer, History of Social Development. 

* Robert H. Lowie, Primitive Society. 

* E. C. Hayes, Introduction to the Study of Sociology, Part III. 
W. Wundt, Elements of Folk Psychology, chaps. I, 11. 

F. H. Giddings, Principles of Sociology, Book III. 

* Lewis H. Morgan, The League of the Iroquois. 

B. Spencer and F. J. Gillen, The Natives of Central Australia. 

F. G. Frazer, Totemism and Exogamy. 

Edward Westermarck, Origin and Development of Moral Ideas, 

vol. II, chap. XXXIV. 
R. M. Maclver, The Modern State, Book One. 

* J. Dewey and J. H. Tufts, Ethics, chaps. II-V. 

* H. W. Dresser, Ethics, chap. VI. 

* Paul Radin, Primitive Man as Philosopher, chaps. IV-VII. 



CHAPTER III 
MORAL EVOLUTION 

I. Introducttory 

Moral Evolution cannot be traced as an independent thread 
in the tangled skein of social evolution. Moral judgments often 
change from one age to another as a result of circumstances — 
economic, political, and religious — that are unmoral (using 
"unmoral" as defined on pages 5, 6 above). Not until we reach 
the higher stages of social evolution — the later periods of 
Authority and Citizenship— are moral judgments likely to be 
as powerful in affecting other conditions of life as they are liable 
to be themselves modified by external causes. However, there 
is always some interaction, and moral considerations influence 
human conduct to a constantly increasing extent as man ad- 
vances. Moral progress has not been consistent and continu- 
ous. There have been frequent reverses. Advance has never 
been uniform in all respects in any given period. Progress has 
been slower in the moral field than in others, — for instance, in 
the field of the applied sciences, during the past few centuries. 
But mankind in the higher civilizations is to-day, both in ideals 
and actual conduct, measurably in advance of preceding epochs. 

Evidence for the statements of the preceding paragraph mil 
be proffered in this, and in the following chapters of Part I. 
The present chapter will furnish an abstract model of the 
general course of moral evolution. In the case of any particular 
people or period, characteristic details, peculiar to it, would 
need to be added. Such details will be sketched in certain 
Hebrew, Greek, Roman, and Christian developments contribu- 
tary to the moral outlook of the present time, in Chapters IV- 

46 



MORAL EVOLUTION 47 

IL The Primitive Horde 

The Primitive Horde, at the lowest level of the Kinship rela- 
tion, of which an account was given in the preceding chapter, 
shows that moral judgments and customs antedate the appear- 
ance of a much more extensive social organization than the 
family. A little reflection will lead us to see why this is the 
case. 

In the common life of husband, wife, and children, all the 
essential moral relations and problems are bound to arise, and 
lead to moral judgments.^ Father and mother care for their 
children; from their instinctive affection emerge the simpler 
moral judgments regarding the conduct of parents. Children 
learn to obey their parents, and so to recognize authority. 
They learn to play and work together, to respect one another's 
rights to toys and other small personal possessions, to defend 
themselves against aggression, to protect still smaller children 
against the attacks of older ones, to exercise self-control in 
fits of temper, self-assertion, and greed. ^ 

To be sure, savage parents and children do not act upon a 
family moral code as well, even, as we do. Their conduct is 
crude and rough. They are often indifferent to filth and squalor. 
Some of them engage in cannibalism and head-hunting. They 
certainly lack the refined sentiments and cultivated manners 
of civilized people. Such words as "duty" and "obligation" 
perhaps never appear in their vocabularies unless they have 
come into contact with civilized races. Yet, in their own fash- 
ion, they practice the elements of family affection, loyalty, 
obedience, cooperation, truth telling, chastity, benevolence, re- 
spect for property rights, courage, justice, self-defense, self- 
control, and thoughtfulness. They cultivate these virtues in a 
very different social organization from ours, and their conduct 
naturally differs in many details. Let us cite an illustration. 
To kill one's parents when they are old and feeble, or to leave 
them to starve, is not exactly our idea of filial affection. Under 
the conditions of life among some savage tribes, however, 



48 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

where it is necessary to move rapidly over wild country in pur- 
suit of food and flight from enemies, such treatment of the aged 
who are no longer able to keep up with the rest is not only 
customary, but kind and just.* It also needs to be pointed out 
that the lower savages maintain a higher level of morals in 
their relations to fellow members of their little groups than they 
do to the outside world, with which they only slightly come 
into contact. Yet they usually show hospitality to strangers, 
and are rarely hostile or treacherous unless they have previously 
been mistreated.^ 

III.. Group Morality and the Higher Subtypes 
OF Kinship 

As we ascend the path of social evolution to Mother Right 
and to Father Right, we find that moral conduct assumes 
several distinctive aspects. Two of these are particularly im- 
portant, "Group Morality" and "Custom Morality." These 
are not names of distinct moral codes, but merely convenient 
terms to designate certain features of morality that had their 
origin in the maternal and paternal subtypes of I^inship. 
They have persisted, though in a modified way, in the relations 
of Authority and Citizenship. 

Group Morality consists of moral judgments conceived in terms 
of the relations of men to one another in groups, with comparatively 
slight consideration of individuals as such, apart from their group 
relationships. 

Under either the maternal or the paternal systems, the most 
important facts about a man are the groups to which he belongs. 
He has a strong sentiment of loyalty toward each of these groups. 
He is always the member of a local or village group, composed 
of a few famihes living together or in close proximity (the family 
organization within the group being different in the maternal 
and paternal systems). Under Mother Right, and in the earlier 
stages of Father Right, as well as in societies in the stages of 
transition between the two, he belongs also to a totem ic group 
which is not local, but consists of individuals in different locali- 



MORAL EVOLUTION 49 

ties. In all cases, he belongs to a larger group, composed of all 
(or most) of the families occupying a considerable region, and 
known as a tribe. Perhaps, as in the case of early Israel, re- 
counted in the book of Judges, a number of different tribes 
may recognize a common kinship, and think of themselves as a 
nation, before they have any permanent and well articulated 
national political organization. Or kinship tribes may form a 
federation, as we saw in the case of the League of the Iroquois, 
in the preceding chapter. National organization, however, is 
not usually very effective until the principle of Kinship has 
given place to that of Authority. 

So, either under Mother Right or Father Right, the groups 
into which a man is born — local, tribal, perhaps totemic, pos- 
sibly national — determine his status, rights, and obligations. 
He remains, his life long, identified with these groups. They 
prescribe into what groups he may and into what groups he 
must not marry. His economic condition and activities are 
those of his group. He must go on the chase with the other 
men, at least when large game is sought, and the captured 
game is divided on communistic principles. When women 
engage in "hoe culture", the grain and vegetables that they 
raise are likely to be shared communistically. So an individual 
prospers when his group prosper, and he suffers from hunger, 
cold, and other ills when they suffer. There is a little more 
individuahsm after the point is reached when men begin to till 
the soil themselves, instead of leaving this wholly to the women. 
Individual allotments of land are then frequently made, yet 
the ownership of the soil remains with the group, reapportion- 
ments being made from time to time. Often a "common" or 
pasture land is left undivided, open to the animals of all the 
members of the group. 

Every member has to serve his part in an offensive raid, as 
well as in a defensive fight to protect the land or persons of 
the group. Conscription is a matter of course, and "conscien- 
tious objectors" are unknown. Every one is friendly or hostile 
to those to whom his group is friendly or hostile. The group 



50 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

determines the acts and sentiments of its members toward the 
outside world. The group protects each of its members from 
injuries by the rest, and inflicts suitable punishments upon 
offenders. If a man under the paternal system commits a crime, 
the immediate members of his family may be thought to partici- 
pate in his guilt to some extent; his parents for not having 
brought him up properly, his own wife and children and slaves 
because they are his property and so bound up in some way 
with his personality. If an injury is done to a member of a 
group by some one in another group, the injured man's group 
calls upon the other group for the punishment of the offender. 
If his own group thinks the accused man guilty, they deliver 
him over for punishment. If they take his part, a struggle 
may break out between the two groups. The members of the 
group of the injured man capture the man they believe guilty if 
they can ; but if they cannot, they avenge themselves upon any 
man of his group.^ Thus blood feuds often arise. It is the duty 
of every member of a group to assist in revenging the injury of 
any brother member; and every member of the wrongdoer's 
group may suffer vengeance for the wrong that anyone of 
them has committed, or is believed by a hostile group to have 
committed. The aspects of Group Morality described in this 
paragraph are known as Collective Responsibility. 

It should be observed that in such a system the individual, 
as such, is kept more in abeyance than with us. He has com- 
paratively little freedom of initiative in marriage and war, as 
well as in hunting, farming, cattle raising, and other economic 
activities. There is little differentiation of occupations except 
on the basis of sex: all men hunt and go on raids together; all 
women engage in the same tasks in and about the huts and 
tepees. Every member of the group participates equally in its 
prosperity and adversity, and shares in responsibility to the 
outside world for the misconduct of any of its members. 

The psychological explanation of the strength of group 
morality is to be found in the strong sentiments of "group 
spirit" or esprit du corps which groups are able to inculcate in 



MORAL EVOLUTION 51 

all their members. This combined spirit of love, pride, and 
loyalty binds the members of the group together and makes 
possible their common activities/ 

Religion is one of the important activities that fosters senti- 
ments of loyalty to the group, and so strengthens group moral- 
ity. Religion among the lower peoples consists chiefly of cere- 
monies connected with the life of the home and family, the 
local, tribal, or totemic group. The ceremonies are believed to 
conserve or increase some value recognized as important by 
family or group. Australian ceremonies are thought to effect 
a magical transformation in boys and girls so as to assure their 
growth into manhood and womanhood, to transmit the lore 
and traditions of the group to a succeeding generation in an im- 
pressive manner, and to increase the food supply. Higher 
savages in different parts of the world employ religious ceremo- 
nials to conserve values dear to them. The values are material 
and utilitarian as a rule: food; water; success in a hunt or raid; 
counsel regarding future policies; security from pestilence, 
earthquake, and flood ; fertility of the soil, of animals, or women ; 
propitiation of unfriendly spirits and gods; love, sympathy, 
and assistance from ancestral ghosts, nature spirits, and gods. 
Such ceremonies always strengthen consciousness of group re- 
lationships, and build up powerful sentiments and emotions, 
whether of fear and awe, joy and ecstacy, or good will to one's 
kinsmen and hatred of hostile groups. Religion at this level 
does much to teach the individual to think, feel and act, to 
love, fear and hate with his group. 

Whatever the character of a religious ceremony, on what- 
ever level of human culture, it always induces in those who 
participate, the feeling of the presence of some power other 
than their individual selves. It is the presence of this power 
that gives men courage in battle and strength to overcome 
obstacles in every emergency, that relieves fears and comforts 
the sorrowful, that heightens joy and brings ecstacy on festal 
occasions like harvests and victory in war. This experience is 
explained psychologically as the release of subconscious and 



52 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

reserve powers in the human organism induced by the stimulus 
of group action.^ Metaphysically, it may be attributed to God, 
or a world soul, immanent in human social evolution, and re- 
vealing Himself to men at different levels of civilization to 
whatever extent they are capable of knowing Him.^ At any 
rate, men in the Kinship relation feel these experiences and 
explain them as best they can. There is some strange force in 
things — mana, manitou, wakonda — that is made available in 
these ways. ^° The force is believed to be common to the animal 
and human members of a totem, and to be strengthened by the 
ceremony. It may be personified as an ancestral ghost or a 
nature spirit or god; or it may be regarded as a manifestation 
of such a being. Whatever the explanation, religion in the 
Kinship stage is a group affair, engaged in by the members of 
the group collectively, or by the head of the family or the priest 
as their representative. The ends of religion are group ends. 
Religion fortifies and intensifies group spirit. 

The beginnings of art, whether employed in the service of 
religion or independently, also serve to strengthen group senti- 
ment. Dancing, singing, the recitation of sagas and ballads, 
drawings on rocks and the walls of caves, designs of potterj'^, 
crude sculpture, — all are frequently employed to celebrate in 
some way legendary, historical, or contemporary events felt to 
be important in the collective life of the group. 

IV. Custom Morality 

Custom Morality is a convenient term to designate a promi- 
nent feature of most moral judgments made in the relation of 
Kinship. A custom is a way of acting which has been followed by 
the members of a group in the past, and which furnishes a rule 
that all are under moral obligation to obey. Among civilized 
people to-day under the relation of Citizenship we have customs 
in the sense of this definition. But, to a large extent, at least, 
individuals among us are free to reflect upon the reasons for 
our customs, and to advocate changes in them. On the con- 
trary, under the relation of Kinship, the reasons for customs 



MORAL EVOLUTION 53 

are seldom asked; and when asked, the answer is probably- 
found in some absurd myth, or other religious or magical super- 
stition, even in cases where the custom is in reality a very good 
one. Very rarely are a Kinship group willing to consider a 
change in their customs. Every one is obliged to accept a 
custom and to act upon it. Provided he does this, it matters 
less whether he knows or believes in the traditional explanation 
of its origin. Custom Morality, therefore, is the moral system, 
prevalent in the relation of Kinship and earlier stages of Author- 
ity, under which moral judgments are based on customs accepted 
unreflectively and unconditionally. Since customs develop in 
the life of the group, are maintained by it, and can only be 
altered through its consent. Custom Morality is largely co- 
extensive with Group Morality. The two expressions are 
sometimes used interchangeably. 

Customs are often compared with the habits of an individual. 
An individual's habits are usually said by psychologists to be 
due to coordinations in the nerve cells of the brain. A stimu- 
lation follows the line of least resistance through these nerve 
cells, the pathway that has previously been followed by similar 
stimulations. Instinctively a child is frightened when it hears 
a strange and loud noise, like thunder. Such sounds arouse a 
nervous reaction following inherited pathways of discharge. 
The instinctive response of fear to the sound of thunder may 
become a confirmed habit in an individual. But, fortunately 
for most of us, as the sound of thunder was heard on repeated 
occasions in childhood, and became familiar it ceased to evoke 
the reaction of fear; and a habit of indifference or even enjoy- 
ment was formed in connection with it. 

Habits formed by the "trial and error" method are of a 
different type, not so obviously connected with instincts. They 
are formed originally with the aid of attention, but the atten- 
tion is uncritical, indiscriminating. A door opens with difficulty. 
The housemaid jerks it various ways, and finally gets it open. 
Each successive time she goes through, she unreflectively jerks 
the door again. In the course of time, however, without ever 



54 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

knowing why, she raises the door a Httle by the knob as soon 
as she takes hold of it, and passes through without delay or 
annoyance. A more discriminating person would have studied 
the mechanism of the door; and finding that it sagged a little 
on its hinges, such a person would have adopted the device of 
pulling upward a little upon the knob when opening the door. 
So habits can be formed by trial and error, or by discriminating 
observation and reflection; and sometimes the habit, after it 
has been formed, will not be different in one case than in the 
other. But, as a rule, reflectively formed habits are better 
adapted to the needs of a situation. 

The habits of a group may be conveniently csdled folkways. ^^ 
A group of persons does not possess a single brain and nervous 
system. Obviously, therefore, a folkway is not precisely the 
same as the habit of an individual. Perhaps a folkway could 
best be described as a habit that each new individual growing 
up in a group forms in conscious or subconscious imitation of 
the others. Some folkways appear to be unmoral, or to in- 
volve moral considerations only to a slight extent, like languages 
and dialects, use of knives and forks or chopsticks in eating, 
turning to the right to pass, etc. Such folkways persist in a 
group because they are convenient. It is perhaps a dutj^ to 
conform to them; it certainly would be awkward not to do so; 
and one does feel a certain social pressure toward conformity'. 
In view of the fact that social pressure is felt to some extent, 
perhaps all folkways may be said to be at least quasi-moral. 

On the other hand, some folkways involve a much more 
decided moral element, and are therefore to be distinguished 
from the rest as mores or customs. It is morally obligatory to 
accept these ways of conduct. The welfare of the group is 
thought to depend in some measure upon observance of the 
mores, and any violation meets with strong disapproval, and 
probably with severe punishment. Marriage inside of the totem, 
murder and theft within the group, and treachery to a guest 
are commonly regarded as grave violations of mores. Such 
serious violations are punished by the group (except in the 



MORAL EVOLUTION 55 

case of the Primitive Horde) while milder violations are still 
left for redress by the injured individuals and their friends, 
supported by pubUc opinion. ^^ 

V. How Customs Originate and Change 

Folkways and mores seem to have originated in various 
ways. (1) Sometimes as expressions of instinctive needs they 
have sprung up spontaneously under the conditions of the 
environment. The obligation of every man to go on the hunt 
or raid is probably an illustration. (2) Other customs grew 
accidentally by the trial and error method, like prescribed ways 
of making bows and arrows, canoes, and huts among people in 
the Kinship relation. (3) Still other customs originated as ex- 
pressions of emotions, felt collectively. Everybody likes to see 
a bully whipped, and to see a fearless man perform daring ex- 
ploits. Most people Hke to ''show off" a little at times and 
gain admiration. Much fighting and dueling, and perhaps the 
first wearing of clothing, arose and became customary because 
of such emotional appeals. (4) The savage, untrained in the 
observation of causes and effects and the uniformity of nature, 
has numerous crude ways of thinking that can hardly be called 
reflective. Something happened fortunately once; it will do 
so again. So he wears charms, seeks to make his fields fertile 
by planting mana stones in them, consults omens before engag- 
ing in serious undertakings, and goes through endless per- 
formances that to our minds are ridiculous, in order to bring 
"good luck" and to avert "bad luck". Such ways of thinking 
perhaps should not be called prelogical, but they certainly are 
not rational or logical according to our standards. ^^ (5) To a 
certain extent, usually to an extremely limited extent, even 
savages have been known to change their customs as a result of 
dehberate reasoning. The old men of Australian tribes have 
made changes thus ; and modifications of customs have been de- 
cided upon in the councils of American Indians and palavers of 
Africans. Only to a slight extent, though, is Custom Morality 
under the control of conscious reasoning. 



56 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

The changes in customs among peoples in the relation of 
Kinship are very slow. They are gradual growths seldom ef- 
fected in one generation, and probably never by a single individ- 
ual. The causes of change are more often unmoral than moral, 
although moral influences are at times operative. It will be 
worth while to devote a few pages to a discussion of this last 
statement, illustrated by marriage, which is of special ethical 
significance in the relation of Kinship. 

How did the maternal system, with its different customs, 
replace the primitive horde? To-day the temporary appear- 
ance of an abundance of food in any locality brings together 
lower savages in vast numbers, who remain until it is con- 
sumed. ^^ Where the primitive horde had given place to the 
earliest forms of mother right, probably a permanent improve- 
ment in the food supply drew together a larger number of 
families than could remain peaceably in the same neighborhood 
without some more definite form of social organization. 

The new form of organization that sprang up under these 
circumstances had the women as its nucleus. Women do not 
move about so much as men, and the men always returned after 
their wanderings to the women and children. The relation of 
the mother to offspring is obvious and impressive. Certain 
lower savage tribes, notably in Australia, are reported not to 
realize the function played by males in reproduction.^* Per- 
haps the significance of this function is never fully felt in the 
maternal system. Not only does the fact of birth call attention 
to the relation between mother and child, but her continued 
care of the child during infancy strengthens the tie. So emo- 
tions develop into lasting sentiments, and bind together the 
children of the same mother. That a man should feel attached 
to his mother, his brothers, and sisters, and to the children of 
his sisters, was inevitable. 

With the close tie between brothers and sisters thus recognized, 
marriages between them have almost universally been regarded 
with horror. It was probably an extension of this horror of 
incest that led to Exogamy, i.e., the 'prohihition of marriage he- 



MORAL EVOLUTION 57 

tween members of specified groups (like totems) who were felt to be 
in some peculiarly intimate relationship. On the other hand, the 
ties of Kinship not only forbid marriages within a considerable 
circle; they also enjoin that marriages must take place within a 
somewhat larger circle. Marriages with persons of totally differ- 
ent races were felt to be repulsive, and so arose the customs of 
Endogamy, which prescribe groups within which one must marry. 

Thus unmoral causes, like the food supply, probably brought 
about the transition to the maternal system, while the develop- 
ment within the latter of the customs of exogamy and endogamy 
seem to have arisen from feelings that could be classified, 
though perhaps only vaguely, as moral. 

The transition from mother right to father right seems to have 
been largely due to unmoral causes. The relation of the father 
to the child had become understood and appreciated. Men 
were giving up hunting, and settling down to pastoral and 
agricultural pursuits which kept them more in one place, and 
made them more important in the economic processes than 
women. The labor of the women, as well as their greater physi- 
cal attractiveness under more prosperous economic conditions 
with better food, shelter, and clothing, made them desirable 
assets for a man to have and to hold. So men bought or traded 
for their wives if they were affluent, captured them on raids if 
they were poor but bold and warlike, and worked for them if 
they were poor and inaggressive. 

Where the sexes are equal in numbers, marriages are usually 
between a single pair. But where a hardy and warlike or rich 
and prosperous Kinship tribe lives in the vicinity of weak, poor, 
less intelligent and less aggressive peoples, the latter are forced 
or bribed to part with many of their daughters to the former. 
Hence there is polygamy (the marriage of several women to 
one man) in the stronger tribe. Extreme poverty may (but 
more rarely) force weak and backward tribes into polyandry 
(the marriage of several men to one woman). These causes 
are unmoral. Though custom morality under father right has 
often permitted polygamy, it has only rarely enjoined it as a 



58 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

duty. Where polygamy has been regarded as a duty, the rea- 
sons have usually been religious rather than strictly moral. 
For instance, a religion may teach that descendants must be 
left to continue the worship of the ancestral ghosts, and pre- 
serve the family name. So, when a wife is barren it may be 
thought a duty to take an additional wife. Among the He- 
brews, long after the disappearance of ancestral worship, it 
remained the law that if a man died without issue, it became his 
brother's duty to marry the widow, regardless of whether he 
were already married, and children born of the union were re- 
garded as descendants of the deceased man.^® 

Most marriages in nearly all stages of moral evolution have 
for practical reasons been -pair marriages, i.e., the marriage of 
one man to one woman. The sexes are usually approximately 
equal in numbers. It is too costly and troublesome for most 
men to maintain more than one wife and her children. So, 
even in countries where polygamy is permitted and regarded 
with favor, pair marriages have been the usual practice. A 
social system in which most marriages are pair marriages but 
in which polygamy is not forbidden, is not, strictly speaking, 
monogamous. Monogamy, in ethics, is the moral system that 
forbids all marriages except those between one man and one woman 
as wrong, and not merely impracticable. Monogamy in this 
sense is comparatively rare in savage life. When ethical 
monogamy appears at a low level (and not merely the practice 
of pair marriage for unmoral reasons) we must suppose that 
the sexes are approximately equal in numbers, that there are 
no marked social or economic classes, and for other reasons 
that there is little inclination toward polygamy. 

At higher levels the reasons for insistence on monogamy are 
partly moral and partly unmoral. (1) The moral worth of 
woman has become appreciated. In conditions of greater 
economic comfort, she no longer loses her phj'sical attractive- 
ness at an early age, and she is appreciated more for mental 
qualities. Husbands no longer think of her chiefly as an 
economic asset — so that the more wives a man has, the more 



MORAL EVOLUTION 59 

wealthy he is judged to be, either because (at a less advanced 
stage) the women do most of the work and so increase their 
husband's wealth; or because (at a higher stage) they are all 
supported by him in ease and probably seclusion, and to have 
a large number of wives is a mark of prestige. On the other 
hand, men have learned that in permanent devotion to a single 
wife the greatest happiness in home and children is to be found, 
for themselves as well as for women and children. Such con- 
siderations as these are moral. They may be felt rather than 
reasoned; but the reflective element would seem to be more in 
evidence than is ordinarily true of custom morality. (2) The 
unmoral factor enters in this way. A monogamous family 
holds together more loyally, being free from the rivalries and 
jealousies of the harem. Peoples who maintain a strictly monog- 
amous family system have a stronger and more durable social 
organization. They have therefore won out in the struggle 
for existence, as a matter of selection. ^^ Few nations at the 
present time are to be found among high civilizations that are 
not strictly monogamous in their customs. The chief excep- 
tions are Turkey and China, in each of which there is now a 
strong movement in favor of monogamy. 

It will be understood that monogamy more often appears 
under Authority than Kinship, but since it does occasionally 
appear under the latter, it has been convenient to mention it 
in connection with other forms of marriage, to illustrate the 
combined influence of moral and unmoral causes in the produc- 
tion of customs. 

VI. The Relation of Authority 

The immediate effect of the rise of the primitive despot was 
to strengthen the hold of custom in most respects. He wished 
order within his domain, forced disputes to be brought to him 
for settlement, and decided them most often in accordance with 
the customs of the group. In the expansion of kingdoms and 
building up of empires, rulers usually recognized the local 
customs of subject populations. With more power to enforce 



60 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

compliance with their decisions, the sway of custom was on the 
whole rather strengthened, in comparison with the earlier era 
of the relation of Kinship. 

However, the spread of a kingdom or empire could not leave 
customs wholly undisturbed. The rise of social classes devel- 
oped new customs. A slave was less important than an ordinary 
citizen, still less than a nobleman. Punishments for murder 
and other crimes varied therefore in accordance with the social 
status of the offender and his victim. With commercial expan- 
sion over wider areas and with advances in the arts and indus- 
tries, laws had to be formulated to cover a larger variety of 
situations than simpler ages had known. Precedents could not 
always be found; and, if found, they often conflicted as larger 
areas and more diverse populations were brought within the 
domain. It became necessary more frequently for decisions 
of king and courts to be based upon some fundamental principle 
thought to underlie earlier law and custom, though never 
formulated theretofore. 

Thus, not only in the case of the common law of England, 
which is the best example, but to a less extent in the evolution 
of law under an authoritarian government eveiy where, there was 
a gradual evolution of reasoned principles thought to apply uni- 
versally. Courts and rulers could only interpret these principles ; 
decisions must not be made at the caprice of the judge, but in 
accordance with the law. As the development continued, and 
laws became more rational, systematic, and comprehensive, 
judges became bolder. When they could, they asserted that 
the laws were supreme even above the exercise of arbitrary 
power by the king himself. Above all was law. 

But such a development of the conception of law took it 
beyond the boundaries of Custom Morality into those of Reflec- 
tive Morality. When one generation begins to seek for the 
principles that underlie customs, and to formulate them, it is 
preparing the way for a later generation to criticize these 
principles, and discard those that do not appear to suit present 
conditions. 



MORAL EVOLUTION 61 

While, therefore, the immediate effect of the inauguration 
of Authority was to strengthen custom, yet ultimately the re- 
gime of Authority stimulated reflection. We have seen the 
influence of the development of law and justice in this respect. 
Other circumstances that contributed to the same result were 
the industrial expansion and foreign trade which empires made 
possible, the development of literature and the fine arts, im- 
proved methods of carrying on warfare, the multiplication of 
diverse myths, rituals, and dogmas, and the rivalry between 
different religious cults within the empire. All such advances 
stimulated the exchange of ideas, and criticism of existing cus- 
toms. And criticism implies reflection. And as a final conse- 
quence, the regime of Authority was undermined. As a people 
learned to think for themselves legally, politically, socially, reli- 
giously, and morally, they became ready for the era of Citizenship. 

VII. Citizenship and Reflective Morality 

When citizens overthrow the system of Authority, and in the 
relation of Citizenship undertake self-government, they assume 
the responsibility of reasoning out what will be for their own 
good, and of obeying the laws that they have decided upon. Just 
as the customs of a group may be compared in some respects 
with the habits of an individual, the collective decisions of a self- 
governing state may be compared with the voluntary acts of 
an individual. An individual may act upon a sudden impulse, 
an irrational suggestion, or a hasty generalization based on 
superficial impressions. Such an act is his own, and he is re- 
sponsible for it; but such an act is not truly rational. On the 
other hand, a decision carefully made after long deliberation, 
in which all of a man's interests and impulses have had time 
to come into consciousness, and all facts and probable conse- 
quences have been taken into account, is rational. It is a 
correct expression of a man's self, character, and will. Few 
human acts probably come up to this ideal entirely; the nearer 
all a man's more important decisions approximate to it, the 
stronger character and personality he has. 



62 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

Now a state has no single mind or brain like an individual; 
a state is a group of individual minds and wills organized for 
political purposes. The decisions of a state are the decisions 
which the majority (or the controlling members) of the state 
have made. If these decisions have been carefully weighed by 
the leaders of the state, after long consultation and deliberation, 
in which all conflicting interests and impulses have been taken 
into account, the decisions are rational. They express the com- 
mon will. Probably they will promote the common good, since 
rational decisions are usually farsighted, and not likely to be 
mistaken. A free state in which important decisions were always 
made in this manner would realize the ideal of Citizenship. No 
state ever has realized this ideal, of course; but the ancient 
city-states and the modern national states have endeavored to 
come as near to it as possible. 

Representative government, with a system of checks and 
balances, a written constitution, and an independent judiciary, 
is believed by conservatives to be more likely to result in 
rational decisions for the common good than a pure democracy 
in which laws would be passed by direct popular initiative and 
referendum, in which all officials, including judges, could be re- 
called at any time of popular excitement, and in which a com- 
plete reversal of local and national precedents and policies could 
be effected as a result of a popular vote at a single election. On 
the other hand, radicals point out that if there are too many 
checks and balances, if a written constitution is too difficult to 
amend, and if courts are out of touch with popular opinion and 
contemporary conditions of living, work, and business, there 
will be few rational decisions for the common good. The prob- 
lem is, to secure a proper balance between radicalism and con- 
servatism. 

The problems of a people in an era of Citizenship are by 
no means wholly political. Similar difficulties exist in every 
phase of modern life — religion, marriage, industry, commerce, 
education, art, science. Everywhere the question is, how to 
secure real progress through collective deliberation. Moral 



MORAL EVOLUTION 63 

judgments enter into the situation at every hand. Conservatives 
in all these fields are keenly appreciative of the attainments 
of the past, by which we have reached our present level. They 
sometimes are more scholarly than the radicals. Not being in a 
hurry to change things overnight, they have time to study 
history, philosophy, science, and theology thoroughly. Radicals, 
though usually sincere and well meaning, are liable to be impul- 
sive and excitable, to jump at wide generalizations on the basis 
of scant and misunderstood evidence, and to identify change of 
any kind with progress. But the radicals do not monopolize 
ignorance and passionate prejudice. Some men are conserva- 
tives, simply because they retain throughout life the concep- 
tions that they learned in childhood, especially in fields lying 
outside of their own specialties, and refuse to read, observe, or 
reflect upon what has been going on about them since they 
left school. 

One thing is clear. It is impossible to reason about every- 
thing at once. An individual has to make most of his deci- 
sions day by day as matters of habit or routine. He can reason 
carefully only about the more momentous questions that face 
him. So it is with public affairs under Citizenship. During 
any year, even during any generation, most of the customs, 
beliefs, and institutions of the past must remain little disturbed. 
Changes can only be considered when serious crises have arisen, 
making readjustment imperative, and where practical knowl- 
edge can be drawn upon to meet the situation. 

By Reflective Morality is meant, therefore, the moral order 
that has its beginnings under the relation of Authority, and 
comes to fuller development under Citizenship, in which en- 
deavor is made to formulate moral judgments in new and serious 
situations on the basis of thoughtful criticism of principles as well 
as careful and dispassionate observation of facts. This endeavor 
is often unsuccessful. Conservatives have sometimes been too 
devoted to customs sacred because of historical associations, 
and have prevented revisions that critical reflection would 
have favored. Radicals have sometimes been blind and pas- 



64 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

sionate in their indignation at real or fancied wrongs, and have 
forced hasty adoption of impracticable measures for reform that 
left matters in the end worse than ever. It has been hardest 
to secure truly reflective moral judgments in situations involv- 
ing deep-seated sentiments and loyalties, related to religion, 
the family, races, classes of society, and national interests. 
But on the whole, in each generation since the Renaissance 
progress toward the ideal of Reflective Morality has been made. 
Increasing toleration for differences of opinion on debatable 
subjects, increased respect for scholarly research and expert 
opinion, and indifference to conservative and radical prejudices 
mark every field of present day discussion. This assertion may 
seem optimistic. But no one will be unduly discouraged at the 
considerable amount of irrationality of our own age, if he will 
compare it with the much greater extent of irrationality in 
earlier periods. 

In an age of Reflective Morality and Citizenship, custom 
morality is not and should not be superseded. Most of our 
moral judgments are and should be based on customs. These 
customs are handed down by tradition, and children learn them 
uncritically and unreflectively, just as they learn to speak, to 
dress themselves, and to use their knives and forks. Nearly all 
of us believe in monogamy, democracy, and the abolition of 
human slavery, as convictions that have come down to us in the 
moral tradition. The ordinary citizen could hardl}^ advance 
arguments in favor of any of these offhand, should he fall into 
an unexpected argument with, say, an educated Arab who 
believed in polygamy, aristocracy, and slavery. This is not 
to be regretted. The point is, that these questions were all 
seriously and reflectively considered and decided upon by our 
cultural ancestors, and in our generation there has been no need 
to question the wisdom of their decisions. The student of com- 
parative ethics and other historical subjects may profitabty 
trace the history of such moral judgments, and learn their 
rational foundations. But most citizens should devote to the 
issues of our own time and country all the time they can af- 



MORAL EVOLUTION 65 

ford to give to moral deliberation on public questions. It is 
our duty, as free citizens, to help solve these right, and to 
enrich further the moral tradition which we have inherited, and 
should in an improved form pass in our turn to the generation 
that succeeds us. 

The difference, then, between custom morality in our age, 
and custom morality prior to the appearance of reflective 
morality is, that when necessary we can examine critically the 
reasons for customs, and alter them in the light of experience. 
We still act chiefly by customs, and hold the moral judgments 
of the groups to which we belong. But neither customs nor 
groups are so rigid that they cannot be criticized. Nothing can 
claim immunity from reflective criticism. On the other hand, 
no institution or custom should be seriously attacked unless 
there is time and will to make a thorough and scholarly study 
of all its aspects. Reflective morality no more connotes frenzied 
attack upon tradition than blind conformity to it. 

VIII. Three General Characteristics of Moral Evolution 

In concluding this chapter, attention is called to three char- 
acteristic tendencies in moral evolution that have been implied 
in the foregoing account. There is a socializing, an individualiz- 
ing, and a rationalizing tendency. The three tendencies have 
not always been equally marked, and progress in one has occa- 
sionally been more rapid than in the others. Each tendency 
has usually, but not invariably, furthered the others. 

A socializing tendency (or a tendency to socialization) effects 
increased capacity on the 'part of human beings to enter with one 
another into relations implying increased sympathy and coopera- 
tion. This tendency and its goal are not necessarily to be 
identified with the aims of "socialists", with ''socialism", or 
with anything "sociaHstic". All moral philosophers believe in 
"socialization". Only the comparative few who are socialists 
believe that this socializing tendency ever will or should lead 
to a social order of a type that could be called a form of socialism. 

The primitive horde, the maternal system, the paternal 



66 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

system, and the relation of Authority each in turn enabled 
larger numbers of mankind to become organized in groups, 
which inspired in them sentiments of loyalty and common 
interest, and afforded them security under a common govern- 
ment extending over a wider area. This quantitative increase in 
socialization made qualitative increases possible also. The latter 
included economic progress, i.e., a higher standard of living for 
every one, in comparison with that previously available to 
persons of the same class and status. Men became capable of 
mutual sympathy and cooperation within larger groups. This 
in turn made possible advances in cultural activities of every' 
kind— architecture, literature, religion, and the fine arts. Polit- 
ical and economic progress opened the way for higher spiritual 
achievements. 

Has the relation of Citizenship effected further progress in 
socialization? The ancient city-states -could not carry the 
extensive side of socialization beyond a limited area and popula- 
tion, without in some measure relapsing into the relation of 
Authority. Modern national states have done better. How- 
ever, they have not yet wholly succeeded in effecting sympa- 
thetic relations with one another. Patriotism — the group spirit 
of a nation — is a powerful socializing factor when at its best. 
Can it be combined with a still more inclusive group spirit, with 
a love of humanity that will serve as a solid basis for more 
socialization in international relations? On the whole, perhaps, 
we can venture an affirmative answer, and prophesy that the 
relation of Citizenship shall in the end prove a lasting advance 
in both quantitative and qualitative socialization. The realiza- 
tion of this hope should prove to be one of the greatest achieve- 
ments of this century. 

An individualizing tendency affords increased opportunity foi' 
each person of his own free choice to pursue interests in accordance 
with his tastes and capacities. "Individualization" and "in- 
dividualizing" will be used throughout this volume in this 
sense. They do not necessarily imply "individualism", nor is 
the advocate of them necessarily an "individualist " ov a believer 



MORAL EVOLUTION 67 

in "capitalism" in the technical sense in which such terms are 
opposed in controversy to "sociahsm" and "collectivism", — a 
controversy which will receive due notice in Chapter XVL 
Everybody, of all schools in ethics and social philosophy, 
probably believes that social progress connotes increased in- 
dividualization in the sense of the above italicized statement. 

The general course of social evolution has manifested this 
tendency toward increased individualization. Progress in 
economic activities, warfare, and the arts, even during the suc- 
cessive stages of Kinship, gave wider scope to the individual 
to express himself. Increased division of labor and greater 
diversity of occupations afforded the individual more of a chance 
to choose what he most liked to do. Under the relation of 
Authority the great development of warfare afforded military 
careers with honor, power, and wealth for the courageous. The 
gradual recognition of individual ownership of land and other 
forms of property made it possible for the talented, thrifty, 
and industrious to carry on a wide variety of occupations, and 
to acquire wealth and pass it down to their descendants. The 
breakdown of endogamous and exogamous restrictions left the 
individual greater freedom in marriage. Kings and courts of 
law as a rule afforded the individual more real security in life, 
liberty, and possessions than Kinship groups had been able to 
give him. With the abolition of collective responsibility, the 
individual was no longer necessarily involved in the quarrels 
of his kinsmen, and so liable to suffer vengeance for misdeeds 
in which he personally had no part. During Citizenship, the 
individual has enjoyed freedom in religion, speech, publication, 
and association. Compulsory military service has been less 
frequent, as wars have become fewer, and usually less destruc- 
tive in proportion to the size of the nations involved. Educa- 
tional institutions of all kinds have multiplied, elementary 
schooling has become open to all, and secondary and higher 
education, both cultural and technical, is accessible to a larger 
proportion of individuals. 

As a rule, increased socialization and increased individualiza- 



68 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

tion have progressed together. As individuals have had freer 
opportunity to develop their tastes and talents, they have 
been able to sympathize and cooperate with one another more 
effectively. However, there have been exceptions. Some of 
these have been more apparent than real. For instance, a 
revolutionary age has sometimes sought to increase individual- 
ization by overthrowing all restraints such as those afforded by 
religion, the family, and property. The resulting chaos, how- 
ever, including economic distress, not to say famine and pesti- 
lence, lack of security in family ties, universal suspicion of 
fellow men, and the breakdown of educational institutions has 
not only been anti-socializing, but has been anti-individualizing 
as well, since the individual has had little free choice to express 
or develop himself in any way. The real exceptions are less 
pronounced. They are merely cases in which an increase in 
individual rights is not attended at once by a like increase in 
public spirit and service; and conversely. To some extent the 
age of Socrates and the Sophists was more individualized than 
socialized; while the thirteenth century a.d. in western Europe 
was more socialized and institutionalized than individualized. 
A rationalizing tendency leads men to display more intelligence 
in their conduct, and to seek new and higher personal and social 
ends and values. Before the development of reflective morality 
this tendency was present, but men were hardly conscious of 
it. Men spoke inteUigently, and in accordance with rules, 
long before these rules were consciously and reflectively discov- 
ered and set forth in grammar. So, during Kinship and the 
early stages of Authority, customs developed that on the whole 
were intelligent and promoted the common good, before they 
were codified as laws. Even the first codifications were not 
fully reflective. Only later, out of changed political or economic 
conditions, new situations arose which law and custom had not 
anticipated. Then for the first time customs had to be thor- 
oughly criticized. Morality became rational, in the sense that 
reasons for customs were carefully and critically estimated. 
First attempts to explain the reasons for customs were often 



MORAL EVOLUTION 69 

only partly successful. Bad reasons were given for good con- 
duct; and conduct was sustained that better reasoning would 
have condemned. 

So far as reasoning is used illogically to support conduct by 
individuals or groups it may be called pseudo-rationalization. 
Freud and other contemporary psychologists often employ the 
term "rationalization" to describe any reasoned explanation 
of conduct, whether logically correct or not; and they usually 
give as illustrations cases where the reasoning is illogical. In 
the present volume, however, "reason", "rationalizing", and 
"rationalization" will not be used in this broad sense, but will 
be confined to logical processes. " Reasoning " and " reasoned ", 
however, will be used broadly, to include both good and bad 
ratiocination. All reasoned conduct thus is either rational 
(logical rationalization) or is irrational (illogical reasoning or 
pseudo-rationalization) . 

Under Kinship, the development of the maternal system and 
totemism may be regarded as the expression of a rationalizing 
tendency. As compared with the primitive horde, the relations 
between men were better thought out and defined. The organ- 
ization on the whole made for the common good. Moreover, 
men learned to appreciate new ends and values, such as loyalty 
to one's kin, and cooperation with them in defense and in re- 
taliation for injuries. Under the paternal system, the organiza- 
tion of family life was still more intelligent. New values, 
including a fuller appreciation of fatherhood, and love and re- 
spect for parents and remoter ancestors developed. During 
these periods, intelligence was also appearing in the improve- 
ment of tools and weapons, in singing, dancing, the making of 
textiles and pottery, in the practical and fine arts generally. 
In the early eras of Authority, before conduct became reflec- 
tive, men manifested increased intelligence in the evolution 
of law and justice, in the advances in commerce and industry, 
the invention of writing and the beginnings of literature, in 
submission to the king and respect for his moral and religious 
functions and responsibilities. Whatever reasons were given 



70 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

for customs in these prereflective ages were likely to be irra- 
tional — myths and superstitions, magic and mistaken science. 
The dawn of reflective morality and the changes that it 
makes in moral evolution, as rationalizations take the place of 
blind customs and pseudo-rationalizations, will be indicated in 
subsequent chapters, with specific reference to the Hebrews, 
the Greeks, and the modern Renaissance and Enlightenment. 
Suffice it to say here, that conduct, as it has become more 
intelligent and reflective, has succeeded better in attaining ends 
already known, and has learned to seek higher values that had 
not previously been appreciated. Respect for the worth and 
dignity of every human being is one outstanding instance of 
a higher value that was first appreciated in the relation of 
Citizenship and its reflective morality. This has led to the 
abolition of slavery, the emancipation of women, the spread 
of popular education, and attempts to make it possible for 
every one to share in all the goods of modern civiHzation, 
provided he does his part. 

REFERENCES 
See References to Chapter II. 



CHAPTER IV 

THE MORAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE ANCIENT 

HEBREWS 

I. Introductory, Historical Outline 

A study of the moral development of the ancient Hebrews 
is of special interest to the student of comparative ethics for 
two general reasons. First, many principles of social and moral 
evolution are well illustrated. This is particularly true of the 
transitions from the paternal system of Kinship organization 
to the relation of Authority, from group and custom morality 
to reflective morality, and from collective responsibility to 
personal responsibility. The socializing, individualizing, and 
rationalizing tendencies are all in evidence. The unique fea- 
tures of the Hebrew moral development, such as the role of 
religion and the conception of a covenant between the people 
and their God, are also significant. Secondly, the Hebrew 
Scriptures, accepted by both Christians and Jews as divinely 
inspired, have been read and studied in every age, and continue 
to exercise a profound influence on the modern moral conscious- 
ness. Many moral judgments widely current to-day could 
hardly be understood without reference to the contributions 
made to our moral tradition by the ancient Hebrews.^ 

It will be necessary to begin with an outline of a few facts 
in ancient Hebrew history. From perhaps the thirteenth to 
the tenth centuries before Christ (dates in this chapter are 
often rough approximations) the land of Palestine (or Canaan) 
was gradually invaded by bands of nomads coming northward 
from the Arabian desert. The nomads lived in tents and 
raised sheep and cattle. They did not practice agriculture. 
Their social organization was the paternal form of Kinship, and 
they were grouped in patriarchal families, clans, and tribes. 

71 



72 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

Some authorities believe that they retained rudiments of an 
earher maternal system, including totemism; but this is un- 
certain.- There was no intertribal organization, but they had 
a dim national feeling that their tribes were by blood related. 
Perhaps the tradition already existed that each of the tribes 
was descended from a different son or grandson of a single man 
called Jacob or Israel. They gradually conquered the " Canaan- 
ites", the agricultural peoples whom they found in Palestine, 
partly exterminating them, and in time intermarrying with the 
descendants of the survivors. The nomads believed that they 
had a covenant with Yahweh, their national war god, who 
aided them in their battles, and in turn expected them to ex- 
press their loyal devotion by offering sacrifices to him, and by 
obeying the customs ordained by him. On their entrance into 
Palestine, the former nomads settled down to agriculture. 
Following the example of the Canaanites, they supplemented 
their worship of Yahweh with that of various local nature gods 
(Baals or Baalim) believed to produce fertility in the soil and 
to safeguard its products — grain, fruits, wine, honey, and the 
like.3 

By the tenth century, the Israelitish tribes had sufficiently 
conquered and fused with the Canaanites to develop a national 
consciousness. They became sensible of their lack of unitj^ in 
their relations with one another, and their need of a more united 
front against the strong and often hostile nations surrounding 
them. So the transition to the relation of Authority by the 
institution of a king to lead them in war and govern them in 
peace came about naturally. The kings, supported by the 
sanction of Yahweh, enforced group and custom morality. At 
first the country was under the rule of a single king (Saul, 
David, Solomon). Subsequently it became divided into two 
kingdoms — the northern, sometimes called "Israel", and the 
southern, called "Judah". During this period unwritten cus- 
toms gradually became formulated into written laws."* 

The transition to reflective morality largely began in the 
eighth century with the "writing prophets" of whom Amos 



HEBREW MORAL DEVELOPMENT 73 

was the first in time. These prophets in the name of Yahweh 
commanded extensive reforms in customs and conduct, to 
correct the evils of the times. They threatened that Yahweh 
would punish disobedience to these commands by the loss of 
national independence. The morality of these prophets, criti- 
cal as it was of the practices of the times, may rightly be called 
reflective. It was, however, nationalistic, with little apprecia- 
tion of the moral worth of other peoples. However, these 
prophets made some moral impression on the national con- 
sciousness, and achieved a temporary political success when 
King Josiah attempted to carry out their reforms in the south- 
ern kingdom. The original code of Deuteronomy embodied 
their ideas in its legislation.^ 

The northern kingdom came to an end with the Assyrian 
conquest of 722 b.c. The southern kingdom was subdued in 
586 B.C. by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, who destroyed 
the temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem and took many of the lead- 
ing families away into captivity in Babylon, leaving the re- 
mainder of the population in a wretched condition. This 
period of enforced captivity in Babylon, known as the "exile", 
came to an end shortly after 538 b.c, when the Babylonian do- 
main, including Palestine, became incorporated in the empire 
of Persia. Those of the Jewish exiles in Babylon who desired 
to do so were then permitted to return to Palestine. A move- 
ment, in which Ezra and Nehemiah played important parts, 
effected a thorough revival of the study of the Law, and the 
promulgation of new legislation. Presently synagogues arose 
throughout all the Jewish communities in the world, where the 
Law was studied, and Yahweh was worshiped without animal 
sacrifices, as the latter were permitted only in the temple at 
Jerusalem. In 332 b.c, Palestine was conquered by Alexander 
the Great, after whose death it passed into the empire of his 
Greek successors in Egypt, the Ptolemies. Jews migrated 
freely to other countries, and large numbers of them settled in 
Alexandria, which became an important center of Jewish culture. 

The experiences of the exile had profound effects on Hebrew 



74 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

reflective morality. The exile itself naturally broke down 
whatever survivals of the primitive Kinship organization had 
persisted in family, clan, and tribal systems. So collective 
responsibility gave place to personal responsibility. Increasing 
contact with the outside world under Persian, and still more 
under Greek rule, broke down much of the narrower nation- 
alistic outlook. A more universalistic note is manifested in 
such writings as Isaiah II, Ruth, and Jonah. The writers of 
the ''Wisdom" hterature — perhaps under the more or less con- 
scious influence of Greek philosophy — were able to state moral 
principles in detachment from nationalistic theology, though 
they remained faithful to Yahweh. Other writers, however, 
remained more narrowly nationalistic, and Hebrew morality on 
the whole assumed a legalistic and ritualistic form, closely 
bound up with the Jewish religion. The real Hebrew contribu- 
tions to morality have therefore been closely associated with 
the religion. By means of this, the Hebrew moral judgments 
enlist emotions and sentiments in a lofty and spiritual way, and 
become effective in conduct. The ancient Hebrews never 
passed beyond the relation of Authority in their political and 
social system, although the synagogue was always democrati- 
cally organized, and is suggestive of the spirit of Citizenship. 
Perhaps the failure to attain Citizenship in their political 
structure partly explains why the differentiation of ethics from 
religion, and the keener discernment of moral principles thereby 
afforded was not the contribution of the ancient Hebrews, but 
only of the ancient Greeks, to the modern moral tradition.® 

II. The Kinship Period 

The conquest and occupation of Palestine by the nomadic 
tribes of Israel, as has been said, was a gradual process which 
was only completed in three or four centuries. During the 
earlier portion of this period, each tribe fought largely by 
themselves, and the territories captured and successfully held 
were often separated by land still occupied by uuconquered 
Canaanites. Sometimes, prompted by their common Kinsliip 



HEBREW MORAL DEVELOPMENT 75 

and their Yahweh religion, two or more Israelitish tribes would 
temporarily combine forces in a campaign.' A successful 
leader in war won prestige, and continued to exercise some 
authority in his own locality as a "judge". He maintained 
order and settled disputes, probably in accordance with cus- 
toms handed down in oral tradition. 

In that era of group morality, defeated enemies had no rights. 
So the vanquished Canaanites were massacred, expelled, en- 
slaved, made tributary, or assimilated by intermarriages — 
whichever at the time seemed to their victors most expedient 
(Judges I-III). It was a man's duty to avenge the slaughter 
of his relatives and near kinsmen (Judges VIII. 18-21). Under 
ordinary conditions of peace, hospitality was shown to strangers, 
even at personal risk and sacrifice (Judges XIX. 15-24). How- 
ever, the custom of hospitality did not prevent Jael's treacher- 
ous murder of a guest and trusting ally from making her 
"most blessed among women", since she did it in the national 
interest (Judges IV. 17-22, V. 24-27). 

Toward the close of the period, after the tribes had developed 
a stronger sense of their common kinship, an outrageous viola- 
tion of customs of hospitality, involving rape and murder, 
aroused general indignation. The common comment was that 
"there was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the 
children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt unto this 
day: consider it, take counsel and speak". The tribe of 
Benjamin, of whom the offenders were members, were called 
upon to deliver them over for punishment, but the closer blood 
tie led the Benjamites to protect their guilty fellow tribesmen. 
In consequence the other tribes united in a common attack, 
and the Benjamites were nearly exterminated. There was 
then a reversion of sympathy in favor of the Benjamites, who 
were doubtless thought to have been sufficiently punished, 
and ought not to perish as a tribe. The whole incident well 
illustrates the good and bad features of group and .custom 
morality, blood revenge, and collective responsibility, in a 
period when "there was no king in Israel" (i.e., no authorita- 



76 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

tive interpreter and enforcer of custom and law) and "e very- 
man did that which was right in his own eyes" {i.e., the tribes 
by informal group action gave expression to their collective 
sentiments in almost moblike fashion. (Judges XIX-XXI.) 

Yahweh, the war god of all the Israelites, was believed to 
inspire the leaders with his "spirit" (mana 1) when acting in 
their military and judicial functions. Yahweh could be con- 
sulted by the casting of lots and the use of ephods. He re- 
vealed himself in dreams, and he or his representative appeared 
in human form to give instructions (Judges II. 1-5; VI. 11-22; 
XIII; I Samuel III). In his personal characteristics, Yahweh 
was an idealization of the heads of their paternal families and 
clans. Vows made to him must be kept at any cost, even to 
the sacrifice of an only daughter (Judges XL 30-40). A curse 
in his name would frighten a son to restore property that he 
had stolen from his mother (Judges XVII. 2). Yahweh was 
believed to enforce group and custom morality, e.g., in reveng- 
ing the murder of brothers (Judges IX. 5, 56, 57), and sending 
lying spirits to mislead the guilty to their ruin (Judges IX. 23). 
He was thought to have sent an assassin in time of peace to 
kill a foreign ruler who received him in good faith (Judges III. 
15-23). During this period Yahweh was probably thought not 
to object to the worship of Canaanite Baals for success in agri- 
cultural activities, then supposed not to fall within his domain; 
although such practices were denounced by the Deuteronomic 
editor of Judges in the comments he inserted into the book at a 
later date. Yahweh was believed to be vindictive in war, and 
to demand severe treatment of the conquered. Yahweh, it 
was thought, would send defeat upon the whole people for the 
guilt of one of their number, in accordance with the principles 
of group morality. In such cases Yahweh could only be ap- 
peased by the burning of the guilty man together with his 
children, cattle, and all his possessions (Joshua VII). 

Though such a moral outlook and the religion that gave it 
sanction were savage, the Israelites at this time were a virile 
people, with ideals and conduct for the most part normal for 



HEBREW MORAL DEVELOPMENT 77 

the Kinship stage. They were brave in war, loyal to kinsmen, 
frugal in living, and generally hospitable to strangers. The 
position of woman, as is common in the paternal system, was 
not exalted. Her chastity, however, was usually protected. 
She received some consideration as the property of her father 
or husband. Deborah, a woman with marked powers of leader- 
ship, even became one of the "judges" (Judges IV, V). The 
story of Hannah, who lived toward the close of the period, re- 
veals a high appreciation of motherhood. (I Samuel I, IL) In 
a later age a story writer with verisimilitude could place Ruth, 
one of the most attractive women in the Bible, in this period. 
Polygamy and concubinage were permitted, and were practiced 
by the prosperous in this, as in all periods down to the exile. 
This was a period of increasing socialization, individualiza- 
tion, and rationalization. The necessity for common action in 
wars, both of conquest and defense, must have been an im- 
portant socializing influence. The cultivation of land, which 
passed into private ownership, was a cause of individualiza- 
tion. The rule of the judges, who had to interpret old customs 
under changing conditions, made for rationalization. The 
worship of Yahweh, the strongest force in all Hebrew history, 
furthered these three tendencies, each of which in many respects 
strengthened the others. 

III. The Kingdom Prior to Amos 

The rule of the kings reinforced the earlier moral traditions. 
The historical books relate further incidents of group respon- 
sibility and blood revenge, like the hanging up before Yahweh 
of two of Saul's sons and five of his grandsons in retribution 
for Saul's slaying the Gibeonites years before (II Samuel XXI. 
1-14) : and the pestilence sent upon the people of Israel for 
David's sin in taking a national census (II Samuel XXIV).* 
Those defeated in wars — whether foreign or civil — are treated 
with ruthlessness. Blood is shed freely upon mere suspicion 
and jealousy (II Samuel XX. 9, 10; I Kings II. 36-46; XII. 
18). There is the same fear of violating an oath (I Kings I. 



78 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

50-53; II. 5-9, 19-25) or even unwittingly incurring the curse 
of Yahweh (I Samuel XIV. 36 ff.); otherwise moral restraints 
upon treachery are not very powerful (II Samuel XI; I Kings 
XXI. 10-13) . Kings and other prosperous men are polygamous, 
the former largely to strengthen the kingdom by marriages 
with foreign princesses. On the other hand, the better aspects 
of group morality — courage, loyalty, friendship, generosity, 
gratitude, hospitaUty, and rough justice are also in evidence. 
(I Samuel XL 12, 13 ; XIV. 6 if. ; XVII. 32 ff . ; XVIII. 1 ; XXIII. 
15 ff.; XXVI. 6ff.; XXXI. 11 f.; II Samuel I.25fT.;VIIL 15; 
XVII. 27-29; XXIII. 8 ff.; I Kings 11. 7; III. 16 ff.) 

If we can regard the "Covenant Code" (Exodus XX. 23- 
XXIII. 33; XXXIV) as containing the customs that became 
written law during this period, further light is thrown upon 
the moral consciousness. Codes and laws are conservative; 
they represent what have become matters of general agree- 
ment, rather than the forward look of moral leaders and re- 
formers. Still, unlike the Hebrew historical books and our 
modern newspapers, they do not relate unusual and startling 
incidents that are more lurid than typical. The codes show 
recognition of the simpler rights of property, forbid theft and 
abuse of trusteeships and assess damages for injuries. Women 
and Hebrew slaves are protected in various ways, though from 
the point of view of the paternal system which puts them more 
or less in the category of property. Personal rights are also 
recognized: murder, laying a curse on one's parents, sacrificing 
to other gods than Yahweh, manstealing, sorcery, and keeping 
an ox that kills a freeman are all capital offenses. Certain 
other personal injuries are punished by damages. There is 
some conception of social justice: protection is afforded the 
poor and weak, including the fatherless, the widow, and the 
concubine; slaves are not to be overworked, but allowed to 
rest on the Sabbath; no interest is to be charged on a loan to a 
poor Hebrew. The laws seek to assure administration of jus- 
tice by penalizing false witness, trickery, slander, libel, and 
judges who bend to the pressure of popular clamor.^ 



HEBREW MORAL DEVELOPMENT 79 

This period, therefore, was one of increasing sociaUzation, 
illustrated by the consolidation of the tribes into the kingdoms, 
and by the centralization of the worship. Increasing individual- 
ization is shown by the development of agriculture and com- 
merce. Both rationalization and individualization attended 
the development of custom into written laws that recognized 
personal, property and social rights and obligations. Morality, 
however, remained in the prereflective stage of custom and 
group morality. 

IV. The Preexilic Prophets and the Book of 
Deuteronomy 

The chief credit for effecting the transition to reflective 
morality among the ancient Hebrews is due to Amos and the 
other "writing prophets" — men who reflected upon the politi- 
cal, social, and moral problems of the times, and in the firm 
conviction that they were speaking under the guidance and 
inspiration of Yahweh, publicly proclaimed what ought to be 
done. Their chief work was preaching moral and religious 
reforms; they occasionally professed to predict future events, 
but this was more or less incidental. They are called "writing 
prophets" because they left some of their discourses in written 
form — in contrast to the earlier prophets like Nathan, Elijah, 
and Elisha — an indication of more profound and systematic 
thought and more constructive contributions in a period of 
greater culture. 

The rapid agricultural and commercial development begin- 
ning with the brilliant reigns of David and Solomon had been 
attended by some of the abuses characteristic of such periods. 
Like all radical reformers of every age, the prophets before the 
exile probably exaggerated these evils. However, economic 
prosperity had not come to all ; the successful were often osten- 
tatious in the display of their wealth, and sometimes unscrupu- 
lous in the ways in which they acquired it. The poor were 
exploited by usurers, and were even sometimes sold into slavery 
for the collection of trifling debts. Merchants sometimes used 



80 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

false weights and measures. Kings and queens were sometimes 
unjust and oppressive. While these wrongs were all forbidden 
in the laws, it was difficult to get justice under judges who took 
bribes. Personal morality was low; there was much drunken- 
ness and sexual misconduct, which the worship of Canaanite 
Baals and imported foreign deities encouraged. 

Amos vehemently called attention to these wrongs, and 
urged reformation in the name of the religion of Yah web. At 
that time there was a current tradition that a "Day of Yah- 
weh" was coming in which the national enemies would all be 
overthrown, and Israel would reign supreme over all the earth, 
and enjoy abundant prosperity. Amos, on the contrary, pro- 
claimed that unless the people repented, and thoroughly re- 
formed in their personal and social conduct, this "Day of Yah- 
weh" would prove to be a day of doom in which Israel would 
be punished by foreign conquest. Merely faithful compliance 
with ritualistic sacrifices will not satisfy Yahweh; he demands 
personal righteousness and social justice. The messages of the 
other prophets before the exile were similar in their general tenor. 

These prophets made Hebrew morality reflective. They 
built upon the moral and religious tradition of their times, but 
gave it a new interpretation. According to the tradition, the 
relation between Yahweh and the Israelites was based upon a 
covenant. Yahweh was to lead them in war, assist them to 
conquer Canaan, and maintain them there free and prosperous. 
The Israelites, as their part of the covenant, were to keep up 
the ritualistic worship of Yahweh, and obey the customar}^ 
moral judgments which they supposed to be the commands 
of Yahweh. RituaHstic worship had probably seemed the 
more important part of the obligation to Yahweh, and in this 
period of prosperity sacrifices to Yahweh were more lavish 
than ever before. As king and father of his people, Yahweh 
would never forsake the Israelites, and allow their enemies 
to conquer them. Such was the tradition. 

The prophets, however, pointed out that there was much 
social injustice and personal immorality in the land, in clear 



HEBREW MORAL DEVELOPMENT 81 

violation of unwritten customs and written laws commanded 
by Yahweh. Elaborate performance of ritual could not atone 
for unrepented wrongs. Yahweh demanded justice more than 
sacrifices. If the Israehtes kept failing to keep their part 
of the covenant, Yahweh would repudiate them. This new 
conception of Yahweh held by the prophets is in marked ad- 
vance of earlier periods. For the prophets, Yahweh is sublime, 
powerful, loving, and wise, but sternly just and capable of 
righteous indignation and uncompromising anger against wrong- 
doers. All his rewards and punishments are thought to be 
material; but the distinctions between right and wrong con- 
duct are firmly and definitely drawn. What these prophets 
did, therefore, was to fix attention upon the difference between 
good and evil actions, to insist that their god stood absolutely 
for the good and against the evil, and to interpret the national 
outlook accordingly. No other god but Yahweh should be 
worshiped by the Israelite. 

In other words, the preexilic prophets detached moral judg- 
ments from mere customs and from ritual, and made a direct 
appeal. They correspondingly rationalized and moralized the 
conception of Yahweh. In this sense they made morality re- 
flective. But the reflective character of their morality had 
limitations. They saw moral obligations between different 
individuals and classes within the nation much more clearly 
than they recognized moral obligations to other nations. And 
they still thought in some respects in terms of group morality 
and collective responsibility. The nation as a whole might 
be punished for the sins of earlier generations. Their relation 
to Yahweh in many respects was that of a group, rather than 
of separate individuals, Yahweh, while supreme in all the earth 
above other gods, is concerned only for the good of Israel ; he is 
indifferent to the welfare of other peoples as ends in themselves. 
So the morality and religion of these prophets were only partly 
reflective after all. 

The partially reflective character of morality and religion 
in this period is illustrated in the book of Deuteronomy. The 



82 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

good features of the earlier code are retained, and there are 
some advances. The covenant relation is brought into prom- 
inence. Yahweh has chosen Israel because he loved them, and 
he expects them to keep his laws, as set forth in this code, on 
pain of punishment. His appeal is both to fear and to love. 
He forbids them to worship any other god than himself. He 
enforces collective responsibility through successive genera- 
tions. The social legislation of the code seeks to protect Israel- 
ites who are poor, fatherless, widows, slaves, concubines, or in 
other ways unfortunate and defenseless. Debts of Israelites 
are to be canceled every seven years, interest on loans is not 
to be charged to Israelites, and they are not to be sold the meat 
of animals which have died a natural death. There is much 
less protection afforded foreigners. In war a foreign nation 
living in the vicinity of Israel should be utterly exterminated. 
The arbitrary power of the father over children in the paternal 
system is restricted so that it does not extend to taking their 
lives without the consent of their mother and of the elders. 
The lex talionis holds in punishment of wrongs: an eye for an 
eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life. However, distinction 
is made between accidental and intentional homicide. Kind- 
ness to animals is commanded. 

V. The Exile and After 

The bitter experiences of the exile promoted the develop- 
ment of Hebrew reflective religion and morality. It forced a 
new and more spiritual interpretation of the relation between 
Israel, other nations, and Yahweh, and also the recognition of 
profounder moral values. It broke down whatever had per- 
sisted of the old paternal, family, and tribal organization, and 
placed a larger emphasis on the rights and responsibilities of 
the individual. It ultimately resulted in a deeper appreciation 
of the importance of human motives, and in a recognition of 
righteousness as good in itself, apart from worldly prosperity.^" 

The capture of Jerusalem and the temple of Yahweh by the 
Babylonians was a severe shock to those who still held to the 



HEBREW MORAL DEVELOPMENt 83 

traditional views in religion. Could it be true that Marduk, 
god of Babylon, had so overcome Yahweh, god of Israel, in 
battle that the latter's holy temple, his peculiar habitat, had 
been destroyed? They were loath to believe this; they preferred 
to accept the interpretation of the prophets from Amos to 
Jeremiah who had been insisting that Yahweh would punish 
Israel by a foreign conquest. The more reflective view of re- 
ligion thus became generally accepted by the Jews, and was 
now given a further extension. 

The second Isaiah urges that Yahweh is all powerful. He 
is in fact, the only God of the whole earth; heathen gods are 
mere idols made by human hands. (Isaiah XL, XLIV. After 
the exile the Jews worshiped Yahweh exclusively, without the 
use of images of any kind; they became strictly monotheistic.) 
Moreover, Yahweh cannot have forsaken Israel, any more than 
a mother would forsake her suckhng child (Isaiah XLIX. 14, 
15). The severe punishment in Babylon has been sufficient, 
and Yahweh has blotted out her sins from His memory (Isaiah 
XLII. 25). Yahweh, who is supreme over all the earth, has 
called the heathen Cyrus, king of Persia, to deliver Israel from 
the Babylonian yoke, and to permit the exiles to return to 
Jerusalem to rebuild the temple there, and to revive his worship, 
for the sake, not of Israel only, but of all nations. (Isaiah XLV.) 
Why has Yahweh punished Israel so much more severely than 
other nations, although, notwithstanding her sins, she has not 
been so wicked as they? It is in order that Israel may become 
"a light of the nations", so that the deliverance of Yahweh 
"may be unto the end of the earth". In other words, Israel 
has borne the sins of the world, and the other nations have re- 
garded Israel as smitten of God and afflicted, whereas this 
chastisement of Israel was in punishment for the sins of all na- 
tions. (The "servant songs "—Isaiah XLII. 1-4; XLIX. 1-6; 
L. 4-9; LII. 13-LIII. 12 — are now agreed to refer to Israel, who 
is the "suffering servant" afflicted by Yahweh for the sins of 
the world.) In a certain sense, this is a movement toward an 
international view in ethics. 



84 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

The second Isaiah gave a new and more spiritual interpre- 
tation of group moraHty. Before the exile it was the behef 
that one generation of Israelites might be punished by Yahweh 
for the sins of earlier generations, or the whole nation for the 
sin of one of its members. In other words, there was a moral 
solidarity in the nation that made it a collective personality. 
This idea is now extended to include all humanity. Israel as a 
nation may be punished for the sins of humanity, so that through 
her suffering all nations may repent and be led to accept Yahweh 
as their God. So the exile was interpreted to signify the moral 
solidarity of mankind, and their redemption through the media- 
tion and sacrifice of Israel. 

Apart from any religious considerations, every ethical student 
will concede that we have here a discovery of profound moral 
truth. Individuals and nations are constantly suffering not 
only for their own wrongdoing, but for that of others; and 
sometimes it is possible for those who thus suffer not only to 
gain greater strength and sweetness of character for themselves, 
but also to impart a richer moral insight to those on whose ac- 
count they have suffered. The doctrines of group solidarity and 
collective responsibility, thus rationalized and socialized, re- 
veal deep ethical significance. To those of us who beheve in 
religion, the second Isaiah was right in associating this ethical 
truth with a theistic interpretation; Jews and Christians are 
right in affirming that through the sufferings of the ancient 
Hebrews God was revealing Himself to mankind for all time. 

In other respects, reflective morality means the breakdown 
of group morality, and the sole responsibility of every individ- 
ual for his own conduct, and not for that of his ancestors, nor 
for that of his adult children. Jeremiah, probably, and Ezekiel 
with unmistakable emphasis, proclaimed that Yahweh does 
not punish children for the sins of their fathers nor fathers for 
the sins of their children, but every one for his own sin. (Jere- 
miah XXXI. 27-34; Ezekiel XVIII.) The legislation of the 
postexilic period recognizes the principle of individual re- 
sponsibility before the law (Deuteronomy XXIV. 16). Jere- 



HEBREW MORAL DEVELOPMENT 85 

miah is preeminent for his intimate discourses with God, which 
show how individuahstic and personal was his rehgious ex- 
perience {e.g., Jeremiah XIV, XV). ^^ Ezekiel feels a personal 
responsibility, like that of a modern pastor, to serve the individ- 
uals committed to his care (Ezekiel XXXIII). 

With the affirmation of the worth of the individual, reflective 
morality advanced to the formulation of precepts for guidance 
in the personal conduct of life. These, as ultimately collected 
in the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiasticus, set forth funda- 
mental moral principles applicable to all subsequent ages. A 
man should honor his father and mother and have regard for 
the aged. He should be loyal to his friends and generous to 
the poor. He should be frugal and industrious. He should 
love his wife and be faithful to her. He should avoid greed, 
covetousness, envj', lying, hypocrisy, slothfulness, and drunken- 
ness. A simple and contented life is better than one of luxury 
and ostentation. A good name is rather to be chosen than 
great riches. In all his life a man should cultivate wisdom and 
understanding; to think clearly and discern intelligently is the 
foundation of all welfare. And to do this best one should wor- 
ship God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. A 
man who follows such precepts will usually prosper in a mate- 
rial sense. In any event, his is the kind of life that is really 
most worth while. Similar virtues are recognized and com- 
mended in women. 

These books contain, we are sometimes told, merely worldly 
wisdom. It might be replied that it is wisdom upon which too 
few men have ever earnestly endeavored to act. If the majority 
of mankind would sincerely follow these precepts, the earth 
would soon be a far better place than it has ever yet become, or 
shows much prospect of becoming in our time. The sages who 
talk to us in these books are free from bigotry and fanaticism. 
They know better than to fancy that visionary schemes for 
social regeneration will ever work so long as most men continue 
to be weak and foolish in the conduct of their individual lives. 
They seek to build a better age on the solid foundation of in- 



86 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

dividual integrity. However, the outlook of the sages would 
have been impossible except in a well ordered civilization. No 
one could have conceived the morality of the "Wisdom" 
literature in the time of the Judges. Men of wisdom and integ- 
rity are the products of an advanced society; if we are to have 
them we must study how to maintain good social institutions; 
we cannot take the latter for granted, as did the writers of these 
books. 

Again, wise and good men are not always happy. They 
usually are, but there are exceptions. How, if we believe in 
the providence of God, are we to explain the exceptions? Such 
problems as these are confronted in different ways in the books 
of Job and Ecclesiastes. The conclusion of the former is, that 
while we cannot discern the providence of God in the afflictions 
of the righteous and the prosperity of the wicked, we should 
none the less in view of our ignorance and finitude firmly trust 
His omniscience and omnipotence. Goodness is an end in itself, 
regardless of whether it brings worldly prosperity. The original 
book of Ecclesiastes, before it was amended by a later editor 
who made pious additions in the interests of orthodoxy, seems 
to have taught that the world order proceeds in accordance 
with fixed mechanical laws, and that the ultimate reasons for 
things cannot be known by man. The best thing for us to do 
is to be virtuous and cheerful, benevolent and prudent, and to 
enjoy life while we are young. If we do this we shall probably 
be happy. At any rate, we should not fret at what we cannot 
understand, but smile and make the best of things. 

Hebrew ethics were boimd up with Hebrew religion. The 
books of Job and Ecclesiastes, in their doubt as to the religious 
foundations of ethics, are not typical. INIore characteristic are 
the Psalms, whose confidence in the goodness, justice, mercy, 
and forgiveness of Yahweh is constant and sublime. If in the 
imprecatory Psalms this is combined with an immoral desire 
for fierce and cruel vengeance on the national enemies, it can 
at least be said that this was only human in view of the miseries 
sufTered by the Israelites during foreign oppression. 



HEBREW MORAL DEVELOPMENT 87 

A delight in the Law of Yahweh — ultimately compiled in the 
Torah or Pentateuch, the first five books of our Bibles — with 
close attention to ritual and love of personal and social justice 
became and has remained the characteristic mark of Judaism 
as a religion, and of the ethics that this religion has supported. 
To be sure, this has at times degenerated into formal ceremonial- 
ism in ritual, and finely spun casuistry in ethics. At times, 
harassed by persecution, Judaism has degenerated into a nar- 
row nationalism "convicted of hatred against all mankind", and 
inspired by the hope that Yahweh would inflict wholesale 
retribution upon the Gentiles, and subjugate the whole of hu- 
manity to the physical and spiritual domination of the chosen 
people and their Messiah. But as a rule, the love of the Lord 
and of His Law has been spiritual and sublime. It has often 
induced the Jew to love his Gentile neighbors even while they 
persecuted him. It has taught him to seek purity of heart and 
inner motives, and patiently to bear his burdens. He has 
faithfully studied the Torah in the synagogues and preserved 
traditions of morality and pure religion when the rest of the 
world was ignorant or forgetful of them. On the whole, Judaism 
has been heroically true to the sublime universalism and the 
priestly service to mankind proclaimed by the second Isaiah. 

P,EFERENCES 

* Dewey and Tufts, Ethics, chap. VI. 

* L. T. Hobhouse, Morals in Evolution, Part II, chap. IV. 

* J. B. Pratt, Psychology of Religious Belief, chap. V. 

* J. M. Powis Smith, The Moral Life of the Hebrews. The Prophets of 

Israel. 

* W. B. Bizzell, The Social Teachings of the Hebrew Prophets. 

* G. F. Moore, History of Religions, vol. II, chaps. I-IV. 

* W. K. Wright, A Student's Philosophy of Religion, chap. X. 
Karl Budde, Religion of Israel to the Exile. 

C. G. Montefiore, Lectures on the Origin and Growth of the Hebrew 
Religion. Outlines of Liberal Judaism. 

W. Robertson Smith, The Religion of the Semites, The Prophets of 
Israel, 



88 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

H. P. Smith, The Religion of Israel. 

S. R. Driver, An Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament. 

H. G. Mitchell, The Ethics of the Old Testament. 

L. H. Paton in The Evolution of Ethics, edited by E. Hershey Sneath. 

Morris Joseph, Judaism as Creed and Life. 

Kaufman Kohler, Jeivish Theology. 

Solomon Schechter, Studies in Judaism. Aspects of Rabbinical 

Theology. 
The New-Century Bible. The International Critical Commentary. 
The Jewish Cijclofoedia. Encycloprndia of Religion and Ethics (edited 

by Hastings). 

The following Biblical passages are sufficient to illustrate the va- 
rious points in Hebrew moral development mentioned in the chapter: 

Kinshiy and Group Morality, Judges I; II 16-23; IV; V (1, 24-27); 
VIII (22-35); IX; XI 24; XVII 6; XIX-XXI; Joshua VII. Respective 
Advantages and Disadvantages of the Principle of Authority: I Samuel 
VIII; Psalm LXXII. Prophets before the Exile: Amos II 6-8; V 4-15, 
21-24. Micah II 1, 2, 8, 9; III 11, 12; VI 6-8. Reforms in the Deu- 
teronomic code: Deuteronomy XV 1-15; XVI 18-20; XXIV 7, 14-16; 
XXV 13-16. Exilic and Post-exilic: Jeremiah XXII; XXIV; XXIX 
1-14. Lamentation V. Ezekiel XVIII; XXXIII 10-16; XXXVI 22- 
38. Psalms LXXIX; CXXXVII. Ezra I 1-4. Nehemiah VIII 1-3. 
Isaiah XL 1, 2; XLIV 9-17; XLV 1-7; XLIX 3-7; LIII; LVI 3-7. 
Jonah III; IV 6-11. Proverbs II; VI; VIII; XV; XXII; XXXI. Ec- 
clesiastes I, II; IV; V 8-19; VII 1-3, 13-20, 23-28; VIII 6-10, 14-17; 
IX; XI 9, 10. Job I, II, IX, XXXVIII-XLII 6. Wisdom of Solomon, 
I-III. 



PART I 
COMPARATIVE ETHICS 

DIVISION B 
OCCIDENTAL ETHICAL EVOLUTION 



CHAPTER V 

THE MORAL DEVELOPMENT OF ANCIENT GREECE 
AND ROME 

In the three preceding chapters, which constitute Division A 
of our discussion of Comparative Ethics, the general course of 
moral evolution was outlined in correlation with social evolu- 
tion, and given specific illustration in the case of the ancient 
Hebrews. The purpose of this chapter and the two which 
follow it and constitute Division B of Comparative Ethics 
as here discussed, will be to disclose the more important strata 
(besides the contributions of the ancient Hebrews discussed 
in the preceding chapter) that underlie the moral consciousness 
and determine the moral judgments of people in the free states 
of the Occident at the present time. These strata are chiefly the 
contributions of ancient Greece and Rome (this chapter), the 
Christian Church (Chapter VI ) and the great modern cul- 
tural movements beginning with the Renaissance (Chapter 
VII). Ethics as a part of philosophy since the time of Socrates 
has played an important role in European moral evolution, 
although sociological, political, religious, and economic factors 
have also been influential. Our attention in these chapters 
will largely be directed to the great ethical systems, considered 
chiefly from an historical standpoint. A more critical evaluation 
of the merits of ethical systems will be undertaken in Part III. 

I. Greek Political and Social Evolution 

The general course of Greek political and social evolution 
may be sketched briefly.^ In Homeric times (about 1000 B.C.) 
the Greeks were passing from the relation of Kinship to that of 
Authority. Each village with the land about it was occupied by 
a paternal clan (genos), a group of families supposed to have a 

91 



92 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

common ancestor. The clan held the land in common, and 
thought it sacred because it contained the graves of their ances- 
tors, whom they worshiped. A group of clans constituted a 
tribe (phyle), and had a common head or "king" (hasileus). 
The king led in war and council, directed religious ceremonies, 
and acted as judge or arbiter in disputes between members of 
different clans. In all important matters, he had to call a 
council of elders (heads of the more important clans). From 
time to time the king summoned all freemen of the tribe into 
an informal assembly (agora) to "hear and acclaim" what he 
and the council proposed to do. Inferior to the free men were 
slaves and serfs, who had been captured in war, or were descend- 
ants from the earlier inhabitants whom the original Greeks had 
spared when they first invaded and subjugated the country. 
While all Greeks had some sense of their common racial rela- 
tionship, as yet no organization united the different tribes. The 
moral outlook was in most respects that of Kinship organiza- 
tion. Group and custom morality and collective responsibility 
prevailed; but the blood feud was held in check by the tribal 
organization, the king usually being able to prevent disputes from 
disrupting or seriously weakening the tribe, whose organization 
was firmer and stronger than that in Israel under the Judges. 
The subsequent evolution was different in various parts of 
the Greek world, consisting as it did of a region broken up 
geographically into the mainland peninsula (open everywhere 
to the sea but with land communication made difficult by 
mountain ranges), many islands, and numerous settlements in 
Asia Minor and southern Italy. Everywhere, however, the orig- 
inal tribes became organized into somewhat larger groups. 
In some instances, as that of the Eleans, clans continued to 
live in separate villages, and the larger grouping was informal 
and loosely held together. In Macedon the power of the king 
increased, and the relation of Authority supplanted that of 
Kinship. In most cases, however, a city-state (polis) developed. 
The villagers in a plain or valley or island came together in 
the vicinity of the royal fortress, probably for greater security. 



MORAL DEVELOPMENT OF GREECE AND ROME 93 

So a city grew, consisting of members of different tribes and 
clans. In this city the Hfe of the whole region centered. 
Temples were built for the worship of protecting deities. A 
market facilitated exchange of goods and furthered economic 
development. Courts adjudicated disputes. The clan and 
tribal organizations sank in importance. In these cases loyalty 
to country, native city, and religion were identical with loyalty 
to the city-state. The citizen believed that the ghosts of his 
ancestors, inhabiting the tombs near by, were loyal members 
of this city-state as well as he. 

As these city-states evolved, the powers of the king dimin- 
ished. The council of elders gained control, and the govern- 
ment ceased to be a monarchy and became an aristocracy, 
ruled by a group of old and influential families. Land usually 
passed from clan or family to private ownership ; commerce and 
industry arose and made great advances. With a few excep- 
tions like Sparta, private ownership of property prevailed and 
individual economic initiative was stimulated. To the tradi- 
tions of the aristocracy the Greeks owed some of their best 
moral traits. The noblemen felt a keen sense of civic loyalty 
and responsibility; they must lead in peace and war and further 
the common good. "It was the Greek nobles, then, who first 
recognized the true nature of the State, and of its infinite 
capacity for ennobling man ; they realized ' the good life ' (to eu 
zen) of the citizen in contrast to the mere life {to ztn) of the 
village community. With them begins the development of art 
and poetry, of education and discipline, of law and public 
order, in immediate and healthy relation to the State and its 
needs." ^ They gave to Greece and to the world the ideal of 
manly virtue {arete) as valor, wisdom, honor and self-respect, 
symmetry and moderation in all things, and many sidedness 
of interest leading to true culture, — marks of the nobleman 
everywhere when at his best. In some portions of Greece, 
notably Sparta and her allies, the social and political organiza- 
tion remained aristocratic down to the Macedonian conquest, 
in the fourth century b.c. 



94 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

In certain of the city-states, notably in Athens, a further 
evolution took place. The government of the city-state ceased 
to be an aristocracy (a rule of the best families in disinterested 
service for the common good) and became an oligarchy (a rule 
of the few for their own selfish interests). The "people" 
(demos, the free citizens, but not the slaves and other subject 
population at least as numerous^) gradually learned some of 
the virtues of government and began to assert themselves. 
They first secured a written codification of the laws, in which 
their duties and privileges were definitely stated, together with 
some concessions that improved their status. (In Athens 
this was done by Solon in 546 b.c.) Rulers and courts there- 
after had to be guided by the written laws. Gradually the 
"people" gained control of the government and made of it a 
democracy. (This holds of Athens after the reforms of Cleis- 
thenes in 508 b.c.) The free citizens had by this time acquired 
some of the ideals of the old aristocracy. They had a feeling 
of civic loyalty and responsibility. They respected the laws, 
which they now had the power to make. They esteemed educa- 
tion and culture, and sought to acquire them. As in our modern 
democracies, every man wished to possess the virtues and 
manners of a gentleman (to be kalokagathos) . 

The Athenian democracy in the fifth century B.C. is the 
finest illustration of Citizenship in the ancient world. Virtually 
every free citizen became familiar with the problems of govern- 
ment by occasionally holding office himself.'^ The general 
Assembly (ecclesia) of all the citizens met at least forty times a 
year, and had the final decision on all matters of moment. The 
Council of Five Hundred, a large committee of the whole people, 
elected every year, prepared the business to be presented at the 
meetings of the Assembly. All political administration passed 
through its hands. The excellence of the Athenian democracy 
at its best, during the Age of Pericles (461-431 b.c.) is hardly 
exaggerated in the famous funeral oration which the historian 
Thucydides put into the mouth of Pericles: 

"Our form of government does not enter into rivalry with 



MORAL DEVELOPMENT OF GREECE AND ROME 95 

the institutions of others. We do not copy our neighbors, but 
are an example to them. It is true that we are called a democ- 
racy, for the administration is in the hands of the many and not 
of the few. But while the law secures equal justice to all alike 
in their private disputes, the claim of excellence [as a qualifica- 
tion for office] is also recognized; and when a citizen is in any 
way distinguished, he is preferred to the public service, not 
as a matter of privilege, but as the reward of merit. Neither is 
poverty a bar, but a man may benefit his country whatever 
be the obscurity of his position. ... A spirit of reverence per- 
vades our public acts; we are prevented from doing wrong by 
respect for authority and for the laws. . . . 

"And we have not forgotten to provide for our weary spirits 
many relaxations from toil ; we have regular games and sacrifices 
throughout the year; at home the style of our life is refined. . . . 
Because of the greatness of our city the fruits of the whole earth 
flow in upon us; so that we enjoy the goods of other countries 
as freely as of our own. . . . 

"For we are lovers of the beautiful, yet simple in our tastes, 
and we cultivate the mind without loss of manliness. Wealth 
we employ, not for talk and ostentation, but when there is 
a real use for it. To avow poverty with us is no disgrace; the 
true disgrace is in doing nothing to avoid it. An Athenian citi- 
zen does not neglect the state because he takes care of his own 
household; and even those of us who are engaged in business 
have a very fair idea of politics. We alone regard a man who 
takes no interest in public affairs, not as a harmless, but as a 
useless character; and if few of us are originators, we are all 
sound judges of a policy. . . . 

"We alone do good to our neighbors not upon a calculation 
of interest, but in the confidence of freedom and in a frank and 
fearless spirit. To sum up; I say that Athens is the school of 
Hellas. . . . And we shall assuredly not be without witnesses; 
there are mighty monuments of our power which will mstke us 
the wonder of this and of succeeding ages, . . . For we have 
compelled every land and every sea to open a path for our 



96 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

valor, and have everywhere planted eternal memorials of our 
friendship and of our enmity." •' 

In the period described by this speech the Athenian democ- 
racy was the head of a vast confederation of over two hundred 
city-states situated on the mainland of Greece, the islands, and 
the mainland of Asia Minor. This maintained a large and 
powerful navy to afford common security against Persia. The 
leadership of Athens had become an almost authoritarian con- 
trol of the other members of the confederacy. In many respects 
this Athenian imperialism was beneficent. The rule was mainly 
just, and all were secure from attack. Democratic constitu- 
tions along Athenian models were generally introduced, and 
free citizens came into political control, with larger economic 
and educational opportunities than ordinary citizens had ever 
known before. On the other hand, the Athenian allies lost 
part of their civic independence. Though Greeks themselves, 
they were not permitted to have an equal voice with Athenians 
in the government of the empire. Tribute raised from them 
was frequently used for purposes chiefly of benefit to Athens 
herself. 

Athenian imperialism made great contributions to culture. 
On the Acropolis were erected some of the finest monuments 
of architecture and sculpture that the world has ever known. 
Great dramatists, poets, historians, painters, and philosophers 
arose among the Athenians, and talented men from all over 
the world flocked to Athens to secure recognition and to benefit 
by the intellectual atmosphere of the place. Never has a city 
so small in population been distinguished for so many names 
that have continued great in history, ^schylus, Sophocles, 
Euripides, Aristophanes, Thucydides, Lysias, Phidias, An- 
axagoras, Socrates, and Plato are a few who in this period or 
shortly after contributed to the eternal renown of Athens. It 
was the dream of Pericles and other imperialists to extend 
Athenian dominion throughout and beyond the Greek world, 
diffusing everywhere the political, cultural, and economic 
benefits of democracy along Athenian lines. 



MORAL DEVELOPMENT OF GREECE AND ROME 97 

The fatal political disease that made impossible an enduring 
union of enlightened city-states under the democratic impe- 
rialism of Athens was factionalism (stasis). Within Athens 
itself were the old nobility, common citizens, slaves, and un- 
naturalized foreigners. Each class became hostile to the 
others. The poor were jealous of the rich. Statesmen defeated 
in an important vote were often permanently exiled, and the 
benefit of further services by them was lost. A defeated faction 
would sometimes ally themselves with a hostile city-state with 
whose help they hoped to regain power. Such factionahsm 
was probably inevitable from the very nature of the city-state; 
for, as area and population increased, it became impossible 
for the citizens to assemble and decide momentous questions 
intelligently. The immense popular assembly often fell victim 
to demagogic orators and crowd psychology. The Athenians 
did not sufficiently develop representative government. They 
relied too much on "pure democracy", i.e., to the direct action 
of voters themselves at meetings and elections. A small city- 
state could be governed like a New England country town- 
ship ; a vast empire could not. 

External causes also hastened the end. Subject city-states 
resented what seemed to them to be the tyranny of Athens. 
Under the leadership of Sparta, a rival league of the more con- 
servative city-states with aristocratic constitutions fought and 
defeated the democratic Athenian empire. Thebes formed 
another league that fought the other two. Each of the three at 
different times sought the aid of barbarian Persia against the 
others. Students of eugenics think that the best blood of 
Greece perished in the wars that Greeks fought among them- 
selves, and that subsequent generations were descended from 
inferior stocks ineligible for military service. Notwithstanding 
some manifestations of a national consciousness, like the great 
Panhellenic games in which representatives from all Greece 
met in friendly athletic and artistic contests, the Greeks' were 
never able to unite in a free national state. They were too 
particularistic in their loyalties to their hundreds of separate 



98 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

city-states. The unification of all Greece in the relation of 
Citizenship was impossible. 

A consolidation finally came through the conquest of Greece 
by Philip, king of Macedon. Alexander the Great, son and 
successor of Philip, dreamed of spreading the civilization of the 
Greek city-states throughout his vast empire, which extended 
from the Danube to the upper Nile, and eastward to the Indus. 
During the twelve years before his death in 323 b.c, he founded 
cities on Greek models everywhere in the foreign lands he had 
conquered. He hoped that his whole domain would presently 
consist of city-states, each with its own assembly and council, 
choosing its own magistrates and making its own laws, speaking 
Greek, and participating in Greek art, literature, and science. 
Under the overlordship and protection of the Macedonian 
kings, order would prevail throughout the domain, there would 
be free interchange of commerce by ships and caravans, and 
East and West would be united in a common free civilization. 
His untimely death put an end to these projects. Even if he 
had lived, it seems improbable that city-states subject to a 
monarch in their external affairs could internally have pre- 
served free institutions. 

The Macedonian generals who succeeded to the different 
portions of Alexander's empire lacked much of his vision and 
statesmanship. However, the domain that Alexander con- 
quered became to a large extent Hellenistic (speaking Greek, 
imitative of Greek culture) if not Hellenic (really Greek) in 
language, spirit, and institutions. This remained true down 
to the Mohammedan conquests. Athens, Alexandria, Rhodes, 
and Tarsus became great university centers in which philosophi- 
cal and scientific research and instruction continued for many 
centuries. 

This social and moral evolution from the earlj^ era of mixed 
Kinship and Authority, in which group traditions were en- 
forced by king and head of clan, down to free citizenship in the 
Athenian democracy, was a process of increased socialization, 
individualization, and rationalization. Men learned to live in 



MORAL DEVELOPMENT OF GREECE AND ROME 99 

mutual adjustment and cooperation; larger opportunity for self- 
expression was afforded to the individual citizen; the principles 
of law and government were thought out and given expression 
in institutions. But the process stopped with the evolution 
of the city-state. A larger expansion, by which the city-states 
could have entered into a federal union on terms of equality, 
mutual cooperation and good will, was impossible. The best 
substitute was imperialism, the overlordship of many peoples 
by one. But Athenian imperialism, the leadership of the lesser 
groups by the most progressive and democratic of them all, 
also failed. Only the harsher and more autocratic Macedonian 
imperialism, the arbitrary control of the city-states by a mon- 
arch, met with any enduring success. This was a partial re- 
version to Authority, but nevertheless the Hellenic culture 
produced by the city-states was to some extent propagated 
and handed down to later ages. While free Greek citizenship 
proved incapable of expansion in area and endurance in time, 
not only its ideals but some of its achievements proved capable 
of transmission under authoritarian imperialism. To which 
do we owe the more? To Athenian democratic citizenship, or 
to Macedonian imperialism? Each rendered a service. 

II. Roman Political and Social Evolution 

The Roman political and social evolution must be sketched 
even more briefly.® Perhaps as early as a thousand years be- 
fore Christ, central Italy was already fully occupied by Indo- 
European invaders from the north — Latins (including the 
ancestors of the Romans), Sabines, Samnites, Umbrians, etc. 
These peoples were organized in paternal clans (gentes), and 
the clans were loosely combined in tribes, and perhaps larger 
confederations like the "Latin League". There was no very 
strong organization more extensive than the small villages 
(pagi) where the people lived, going out by day to farm the 
tillable land, probably already under private ownership, while 
the pasture land was still held in common. 

In the sixth century b.c, Rome (an Etruscan name) was a 



100 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

small fortified city-state, comprising a considerable number of 
clans under the rule of the Etruscans/ The king {rex) had the 
three functions of commander in war, priest in state religious 
ceremonies, and judge in the settlement of private disputes. 
It was an instance of an authoritarian system built upon earlier 
Kinship organization, in which the power (imperium) of the 
king, though absolute in theory, was in practice limited by 
the fact that he was supposed to consult the council (heads of 
the more important clans) on matters of importance, and to 
convoke the assembly of the people (comitium) to hear, and if 
they chose, approve the most important decisions made by 
king and council. Attempts of the Etruscan kings to rule in 
an arbitrary way, more independent of council and assembly 
(in which the Romans were probably in the majority) brought 
on a revolution in 509 B.C. This resulted in the expulsion of 
the kings and the establishment of the rule of the aristocracy. 

The imperium was thereafter held by two consuls, each 
elected annually. Though the power of each consul was in 
theory absolute, his exercise of it was limited by the presence 
of the other, and the shortness of his term of office. So in fact 
the general direction of policies and determination of matters 
of consequence was in control of the council (senate). This 
came to consist of a body of former magistrates, chosen for 
hfe, all members of the aristocracy (patricians), and mostly 
men of wide experience and seasoned judgment. They long 
passed upon all important questions, usually with masterly 
statesmanship. The transition from aristocracy to democracy 
in Rome was a slow process, marked by much political struggle 
but little actual bloodshed. First, the people (plebeians) ob- 
tained the reduction of the customs to written laws and their 
codification in the Twelve Tables (451 b.c.).^ In time they 
gained numerous other concessions, and by 287 B.C. they were 
on a level of practical parity with the patricians. The senate 
and consuls could do nothing to which the people objected in 
their popular assemblies or through their representatives, the 
tribunes. However, the ordinary conduct of affairs long con- 



MORAL DEVELOPMENT OF GREECE AND ROME 101 

tinued to remain in the hands of consuls and other magistrates 
under the supervision of the senate, because of their experience, 
moral prestige, and hold upon popular confidence. This com- 
paratively peaceful evolution is in sharp contrast to the Greek 
city-states, rent by factionalism. It was the result of the gen- 
eral Roman sense of fairness, and willingness to make practical 
compromises. 

External expansion was carried on by the Romans with 
extraordinary success. As one portion of Italy after another 
was added to the Roman domain, the conquered populations 
were successfully assimilated. They were gradually granted 
the full rights of Roman citizenship on a parity with the people 
of the city of Rome itself, and ultimately came to think of 
themselves as Romans. Most of Italy, though not yet assimi- 
lated, was firmly united under Roman rule during the wars 
with Carthage, which ended in 146 b.c. with Rome supreme in 
the West. This remarkable expansion of Roman citizenship 
furnishes a contrast to Athens, which failed to include sub- 
ject states in full citizenship. One reason for Roman success 
was because the routine of government was not carried on in 
popular assemblies, subject to crowd psychology and devoid 
of continuous political traditions. The Roman assemblies met 
chiefly to elect officials — consuls and other magistrates — who 
performed their duties under the supervision of the long ex- 
perienced and aristocratic senate. 

When Rome conquered the world, however, the popular 
assemblies and the magistrates of their choice, even with the 
aid of the senate, no longer proved to be either sufficiently 
representative or sufficiently cognizant of world problems. 
After a century of internal wars, proscriptions and dictatorships, 
the solution was found in a considerable reversion to the prin- 
ciple of Authority. Octavius — later known as Augustus Csesar 
— an experienced general and statesman, won universal .confi- 
dence, and in the years following 29 b.c. became "first citizen" 
(princeps) and "commander-in-chief" (imperator) — terms which 
later came to mean "prince" and "emperor". Augustus and 



102 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

his successors, notwithstanding personal faults and occasional 
oppression of the wealthy in Rome, down at least to the death 
of Marcus Aurelius in 180 a.d., usually exercised with ability 
and statesmanship the wide powers which, in theory, had been 
delegated to them by the senate and the Roman people. The 
civilized world enjoyed comparative peace. At least for the 
first century or two of the empire economic conditions were in 
many respects good. Provinces, especially after they had 
passed from the administration of proconsuls chosen by the 
senate to that of personal representatives of the emperor, in 
most cases enjoyed more just and orderly government than 
they had ever known before, as well as more intimate cultural 
and commercial relations with the outside world. ^ Provincials 
in increasing numbers obtained more and more of the rights of 
Roman citizenship. Many emperors and other leading men 
after the first century a.d. came from the provinces; and after 
the famous edict of Caracalla (212 a.d.) all free citizens of the 
provinces became Romans in every political and legal sense. ^° 
Latin was the common language of the western provinces. In 
the East, the Greek language and traditions were allowed 
to remain dominant. Except for Judaism and Christianity 
there were no religions in conflict with the imperial admin- 
istration. 

In some respects Roman imperialism has been the most suc- 
cessful in the history of the world. ^^ The splendid morale of 
the Romans enabled them to conquer the world by force. 
Their equitable civil and judicial administration gave them 
moral prestige and enabled them to hold it. The deification of 
the emperors and of the city of Rome gave the imperial govern- 
ment an effective religious sanction among the pagans. Even 
Christians regarded the emperor and other rulers as in some 
sense clothed with divine authority.^- Provincials were com- 
pletely assimilated, and armies for the defense of the empire 
were largely recruited from them. The vast barbarian hordes 
were prevented for centuries from overwhelming the empire; 
after its fall, the fiction of the Holy Roman Empire had a 



MORAL DEVELOPMENT OF GREECE AND ROME 103 

tremendous hold on thought and Hfe throughout the middle 
ages. ^^ Traditions of Roman law to-day remain basic in mod- 
ern codes, particularly in continental Europe. 

In no period did Rome realize such ideals of free citizenship 
as Athens knew in her best days; nor were Roman achieve- 
ments in art, literature, philosophy, and science comparable 
with those of Greece. On the other hand, the Romans were 
hard-headed and practical. They held together, and did not 
destroy themselves in factional struggles. The administration 
of their city-state, though less democratic, was for a longer 
time just and efficient. With the loss of poHtical liberty, and 
increasing dependence upon the personal authority of the em- 
peror and his bureaucracy, decadence manifested itself in art, 
literature, philosophy, science, and most other forms of creative 
genius. However, the world was held together, and civiliza- 
tion saved for many centuries from downfall. Will our modern 
national states prove as long successful in preserving civiliza- 
tion from destructive wars? Rome succeeded, better than any 
modern empire has yet done, in assimilating conquered prov- 
inces.^^ And, in one important domain, the Roman creative 
genius never failed in ancient times. The evolution of Roman 
law, as interpreted by some of the greatest jurists the world 
has ever known, continued, clear down until its codification 
in the reign of the emperor Justinian (527-565 a.d.). 

The Roman evolution was thus one of socialization, in which 
the various peoples and classes of society of the ancient world 
learned to cooperate. There was increased individualization, 
with economic progress and wide diffusion of Greek and Roman 
civilization, made accessible in some measure to all free men 
within the empire. There was increased rationalization, notably 
in the development of the law and government by which so 
vast a domain was held together. None of these processes was 
complete. Liberty and creative genius disappeared. Economic 
burdens in the later empire became oppressive. The empire 
ultimately fell, and social and political evolution had to start 
over again with its barbarian conquerors. ^^ 



104 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

III. Greek and Roman Moral Consciousness 

Before discussing the moral philosophers, let us notice cer- 
tain traits of the ancient popular morality which they inter- 
preted.^^ The moral evolution of the Greeks was unique in 
several respects. The advance in morality was not accompanied 
by a corresponding advance in religion, but was largely an 
independent development. The Greeks, as we have seen, did 
not achieve a national government prior to the Macedonian 
conquest, but only federations of city-states. Since each city- 
state retained its own traditional cults, there was really no 
national religion. To be sure, the Homeric poems were studied 
everywhere; thus the splendid Olympian gods and goddesses 
with their beautiful forms and sublimated human personalities, 
became universally fixed in the popular imagination. These 
deities, however, practiced the morals of the early age in which 
the Homeric poems took their form. As men became more 
civilized and recognized higher moral standards, they outgrew 
the popular religion, and thought out their moral problems 
without reference to it.^'' Probably the ordinary Greek never 
fully realized this. But he, unlike the Hebrew, did not think 
of right and wrong as righteous obedience and sinful violations 
of divine commands, but rather as success and failure to act 
like a natural human being. 

To-day most of us probably think of the Greeks as famous 
especially for their artistic genius, their athletic sports, and 
their contributions to science and philosophy. Their remark- 
able talents in these fields throw light upon their moral con- 
sciousness. To the Greek, at least prior to the rise of Stoicism, 
goodness and beauty were almost identical. A good fife was a 
beautiful life, — well rounded, symmetrical, and well propor- 
tioned. The emphasis was upon virtues, upon character and 
personality, which make a man what he is, rather than upon 
the performance of duties and obligations. They admired the 
all-around athlete with a well proportioned body. The Greeks — 
at least before the rise of neo-Platonism and Catholic Christian- 



MORAL DEVELOPMENT OF GREECE AND ROME 105 

ity — were not ascetics ; they did not seek to mortify their bodies 
and were not ashamed of them. Their ideal was a beautiful 
soul in a beautiful body — such was part of what they meant 
by the perfection of man as a natural being. 

Prior to the Macedonian conquest, a man could best realize 
his nature by making the most of his citizenship in a free state. 
For a man to be natural was to be a good citizen, faithful in 
loyalty and service to the city-state; to fulfill his part as son, 
husband, and father to ancestors, wife and children; in peace 
and war to perform the functions of his rank and status. After 
the Macedonian conquest, life as a natural human being was 
conceived in terms at once more individualistic and more 
universal. Each must primarily seek his own good as an individ- 
ual man, now that the abject condition of his city-state threw 
him upon his own initiative. Unlike his ancestors, he could 
not remain aloof to men of other cities, and contemptuous of 
non-Greeks as "barbarians". Closer contact with outsiders 
under the universal rule of Alexander, his successors, and the 
Romans, in a world in which there was much travel and com- 
merce and interchange of ideas, taught him to recognize that 
all men are much alike in moral and intellectual attainments, 
and have similar rights and obligations. 

The moral character of the Romans in some respects differed 
from that of the Greeks. This is especially true of the earlier 
repubhcan periods, before the Romans came under the influ- 
ence of Greek civiHzation. The early Romans were a simple 
agricultural people, with strong social organization and moral 
traditions in which the authority of the father of the family 
was almost absolute. Frugality, industry, obedience, and a 
strong hold on the practical values of life were marked traits. 
Successive wars of the republican period strengthened these 
traits. Military successes of that age were not so much the 
result of superior wealth and mechanical equipment as of .firm 
discipline, and patriotic devotion. Warfare made the best 
men of the republic heroes, who performed brave acts regard- 
less of material interest, mindful only of personal honor and 



106 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

the welfare of the state. They had an unconquerable respect 
for themselves and reverence for Rome. Down to the first 
century B.C., the best Romans of the older school held to these 
traditions. Their vices were often the defects of these qualities. 
They were frequently cruel to slaves, debtors, and defeated 
foes. They were likely to be unappreciative of the refinements 
of civilization, indifferent to art, literature, and philosophy, 
lacking in kindness and S5rmpathy, and blind to the merits of 
other peoples. Though they respected their women, they gave 
them few legal rights, and subjected them in most respects to 
the authority of their fathers and husbands. 

During the last century of the republic and the establish- 
ment of the empire the national character gradually altered. 
Some of the changes were for the worse. Frugality and sim- 
plicity were succeeded by manifestations of luxury and sensuous 
indulgence that were unwholesome. There was much ostenta- 
tious display of wealth. As agriculture declined in Italy, the 
descendants of industrious farmers migrated to the cities and 
became an idle proletariat, supported by gratuitous distribu- 
tions of food, and amused by public games and spectacles. An 
earlier age had admired heroes and imitated them upon the 
battlefield. The Roman of the empire often indulged his ad- 
miration for bravery vicariously; he watched gladiators fight, 
while provincials and barbarians took his place in the legions 
and defended the empire. Idle people, rich and poor ahke, 
fell into debauchery in drink and sex. On the other hand, the 
empire in some ways marked moral progress. The Romans 
emulated the more refined manners of the Greeks whom they 
had conquered. They studied art, literature, and philosophy, 
and learned to appreciate them, although they developed little 
creative ability. First as a matter of expediency, and later from 
a sense of right, the provinces from the time of Augustus on were 
governed with increasing justice and equity. To some extent 
the common equality of mankind was affirmed; gradually the 
rights left to Romans under the empire were extended to all 
subjects. The condition of slaves was mitigated, although bad 



MORAL DEVELOPMENT OF GREECE AND ROME 107 

economic conditions due partly to excessive and ill-distributed 
taxation reduced many peasants to serfdom. Clemency had 
become a recognized virtue, and no longer was thought to be 
a mark of weakness. During the early empire married women 
gained more legal rights than ever before in Europe. ^^ 

Greek and Roman morals are one aspect of that which is 
often called "paganism" , The classical pagan view of life had 
its limitations, as Christian and Jewish moralists are constantly 
reminding us. Its ideals were not sufficiently high, its sense of 
sin and duty not poignant enough. It did not feel the pangs 
of conscience with bitterness, and long ardently for moral re- 
generation (except to some extent in the case of Stoics). It 
fell short of Hebraism in deep emotion and sympathy. It 
lacked charity and altruism, if compared with the best periods 
of Christianity. It kept too close to the level of ordinary life, 
and did not yearn enough for the transcendent.^* Perhaps it 
never occurred to the average classical pagan that he ought to 
love any God with all his heart, his mind, his soul, and his 
strength, or that he ought to love his neighbor as himself. He 
recked little of "the high that proved too high, the heroic for 
earth too hard", and did not think of binding himself "by 
such vows, as is a shame a man should not be bound by, yet 
the which no man can keep". 

On the other hand, the classical pagan had many fine moral 
qualities. He appreciated devotion to home and parents, hus- 
band and wife, children and ancestors.^" He displayed loyalty 
and patriotism. 2^ He excelled in love of beauty in mind and 
body. He was no ascetic, but usually practiced moderation in 
food and drink, speech and personal demeanor. ^^ He knew the 
joy of life. Pagan culture stood for clear thinking, for the fight 
of reason that expels darkness and superstition. Knowing that 
moral issues are better understood by clear and intelligent 
minds, free from disturbing emotions, the pagan acted accord- 
ingly. He was freer on the average from bigotry, prejudice, 
and fanaticism than the Christian who succeeded him became 
until the eighteenth century. ^^ His favorite mottoes were 



108 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

"know thyself", "nothing in excess", and "follow nature". 
Wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice, the four virtues in 
which Plato summed up morality, were the moral traits most 
commended in the pagan mores. ^^ 

IV. Socrates and the Emergence of Ethics 

Although moral maxims were earlier enunciated in China, 
India, and Persia, and although anticipations of a systematic 
point of view in ethics may be discovered a generation or two 
earlier in other parts of the Greek world, to Socrates of Athens 
(t 399 B.C.) may be given the credit for effecting the emergence 
of ethics or moral philosophy in the strict sense of the scientific 
study of moral judgments. '^^ 

General conditions in Athens in the latter portion of the 
fifth century b.c. were favorable for the rise of Ethics. Under 
the recently acquired democratic constitution, laws had been 
enacted which favored the masses at the expense of the old aris- 
tocracy. Such laws did not have behind them in the popular 
mind sanctions of immemorial tradition and divine institution. 
So it was inevitable that thoughtful men asked on what grounds 
a person should obey laws and customs. Is it purely a matter 
of coercion and physical necessity? Is justice merely what has 
been decreed by the party temporarily in power, is it simply 
"the interest of the stronger"? Has a person the moral right to 
do whatever he considers to be to his own interest, obe3ing 
the laws when he must, and evading them when he considers 
it practicable and profitable? Are right and wrong only matters 
of private and public opinion? Or, on the other hand, is there 
an absolute moral obligation to obey laws and generally accepted 
moral judgments? Are there rational standards for human 
conduct, to which all, if they are honest, will have to assent, 
once they understand them? The teachers of higher education, 
the Sophists, brought such questions to the attention of the 
young men whom they taught, and sometimes attempted to 
answer them constructively. Under their influence Athenian 
thought broke with the unreflective morahty of custom and 



MORAL DEVELOPMENT OF GREECE AND ROME 109 

tradition. No Sophist, however, really succeeded in advancing 
a constructive solution of ethical problems. ^^ 

Socrates was the first to discover a systematic method for 
the analysis of moral judgments that was at once thorough, 
critical, and constructive. By its use he established the broad 
principles of all subsequent European ethical systems. We can 
only briefly note his method of investigation, his mode of teach- 
ing, his main ethical principles, and his personality. 

His method of investigating moral problems may be called 
"inductive" and "empirical" in the freer ancient sense, al- 
though it lacked the precision of a Bacon or a Darwin, or a 
moral philosopher of our own times. For instance, he would 
write down under "Justice" all actions under that head, which 
occurred to him or others, and contrast them with all actions 
that come under "Injustice". Lying ordinarily is unjust, but 
it is sometimes just to deceive sick children, or disheartened 
troops in a campaign. In general, misrepresentations performed 
with the intention of injuring the persons affected by them are 
unjust.^^ On one occasion Socrates is described as criticizing 
successively various popular definitions of justice current at 
the time, such as "giving to every one his due", "doing good 
to our friends and evil to our enemies", "helping our friends 
if they are good men, and injuring our enemies if they are bad 
men", and "the interest of the stronger". Instances are pointed 
out by him in which each definition will not apply. ^^ In such 
ways he succeeded in making the general sphere of justice better 
understood, though he probably never arrived at a formal 
definition of justice. His illustrations reveal constant and keen 
observation of human life. His method implies that formal 
definitions exist in the field of ethics, and that these can be 
approximately ascertained by comparing different moral judg- 
ments and actions, and by testing hypothetical definitions in 
every possible way. 

His mode of teaching was, or seemed to be, completely 
informal. He frequented public places, and started discussions 
among those who were interested. ^^ He would begin such a 



no GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

discussion by asking some one's opinion on a moral question, 
assuming ignorance on his own part, and a desire to be in- 
structed. A pretentious Sophist would thus be trapped into 
assertions that on critical examination were shown to be in- 
consistent. He was more kindly in his treatment of young men 
who were honest seekers after truth. With all, however, his 
method of instruction began with irony, a process of showing 
the learner by questioning him, his ignorance of the subject. 
Only he that knows that he does not know is in a position to 
learn anything. The second phase of the method Socrates 
called maieutic ("mental midwifery "). By leading questions the 
learner is assisted to give birth to ideas — a process hardly less 
painful than that endured by a woman in travail — but attended 
with joy when the new principle has been born in the mind.^° 

Socrates believed that every one acts, and ought to act, 
in the line of his own interest, provided he really understands 
what his interest is. And his interest is to lead a happy life; 
and that, for Socrates, probably meant a life containing the 
greatest pleasure in the long run. One's highest interest and 
greatest happiness are to be found in a simple and abstemious 
life of personal integrity and service to others. Since justice 
is the health of the soul, it is better to suffer wrong than to do 
injustice to another. In the former case one's own character 
is uninjured. One should return good for evil, and never harm 
anyone. We expect justice and good faith from others; we can- 
not refuse to render the same to them. Since virtue is always 
the supreme good for every one, to know what is right neces- 
sarily implies that a person will act accordingly^; wrongdoing 
is the result of ignorance. Such virtues as wisdom, courage, 
temperance, justice, reverence, and love are carefully analyzed 
and described. Strong as is Socrates' emphasis on individualism 
in teaching that each should follow his own interest, the Socratic 
conception of where the true interests of a person really lie 
makes the doctrine profoundly social. In laying the foundations 
of ethics, Socrates makes morality markedly individual, social, 
and rational in its constitution. 



MORAL DEVELOPMENT OF GREECE AND ROME 111 

The feature of Socratic ethics most open to criticism is the 
contention that virtue can be identified with knowledge and 
vice with ignorance. It is true that this contention was more 
plausible in the generation of Socrates than at any subsequent 
time in history. Ethics was then only having its beginning; the 
student of Socrates could not derive his moral conceptions from 
the reflective thought of earher ages. He had to think them out 
for himself through the painful method of irony and maieutic; 
in so doing he understood their concrete and practical applica- 
tions to his own life and that of the city. Such knowledge 
gripped one's soul and refashioned one's sentiments and char- 
acter. The situation is quite different to-day. Our moral 
judgments have come down to us from diverse traditions — 
Hebrew, Greek, Roman, Christian inheritances from remote 
ages — traditions often inconsistent with one another, and not 
obviously applicable to our own circumstances. The adolescent 
acquires them by hearing older persons talk, and by reading 
books. So we only half understand or believe our moral in- 
tuitions; and we cannot always trust our consciences to guide 
us to right decisions. Socrates would say of us, that when we 
do wrongly or judge wrongly it is because of our ignorance; we 
do not understand because we have never really thought out 
and made part of our own life experience the moral codes and 
conceptions that we profess. But Socrates was not wholly 
right, even for his own day. Few of his pupils went into active 
public service in a time when Athens sadly needed the loyal 
support and moral leadership of her best trained men; and two 
of those who did go into politics, Alcibiades and Critias, proved 
bad men in their public as well as private careers. The evil 
records of a few of his pupils prejudiced many against Soc- 
rates at the time of his trial; the creditable though not politi- 
cally active careers of the majority of his pupils were over- 
looked. 

The personality of Socrates has left a vivid impression upon 
the ages. With homely features and bald head, simply clad 
in a single garment, crude and grotesque in outward appearance 



112 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

like a mask of Silenus, inwardly his character was of pure gold.^^ 
His life was devoted to the search for moral truth and the 
endeavor to teach it to others. Prompted by an inward im- 
pulse or sense of duty which he perhaps thought of as a guiding 
spirit (daimonion) , he sought to carry out what he believed to 
be a divine commission. ^^ Pronounced by the oracle at Delphi 
to be the wisest man in Athens, he humbly concluded that this 
could only be true because he appreciated his own ignorance 
and limitations; so he ever sought to learn from all whatever 
he could, and he unhesitatingly exposed sham and false pretense 
whenever he found them. When put to the test, he stood res- 
olutely by his own convictions at whatever peril. Unmindful 
of the commands of tyrants and of popular clamor, at the risk 
of personal safety he steadfastly refused to commit or sanction 
wrong. ^^ When brought on trial for his life, to face the false 
charges of rejecting the gods acknowledged by the state, of 
bringing in strange deities, and of corrupting the youth, at a 
time when he and his friends were unpopular in Athens, he 
refused to leave the city to escape prosecution. He faced his 
accusers fearlessly in the court, declining to make an emotional 
appeal to the jury of five hundred citizens. After a slight 
majority had pronounced him guilty, he would not seek to 
avert the death sentence, asked by his prosecutors, by proposing 
banishment as an alternative, or by promising to refrain from 
teaching in the future. After he had been condemned to die, 
he rejected an opportunity to escape from prison because he 
believed it to be his duty to Athens, of which he was a native 
citizen, to submit to the lawful authority of the court that had 
sentenced him. He spent the hours preceding his execution 
in cheerful conversation with his pupils and friends, and he died 
peacefully. His life and death supplied a model for moral 
emulation throughout antiquity. The lives and deaths of onlj^ 
two other men in all history — Buddha and Jesus — have made 
comparable impressions upon subsequent generations of man- 
kind.34 



MORAL DEVELOPMENT OF GREECE AND ROME 113 

V. Hellenic Ethical Systems 

Socrates taught the world that it is possible to think out 
ethical principles in the light of observation and experience. 
No system builder himself, he marked the way for ethical 
systems to be formulated in succeeding generations. Diverse 
as were the different ethical systems of ancient Greece and 
Rome, they all show in some way spiritual descent from Soc- 
rates. 

Two famous ethical systems founded by pupils of Socrates 
carried certain of his teachings to conclusions at once extreme 
and absurd. Antisthenes in Athens at the gymnasium of 
Cynosarges (which gave the school the name of Cynics) devel- 
oped the Socratic emphasis on simplicity of living and absence 
from unnecessary wants, to a life of ostentatious poverty and 
almost savage simplicity that was not Hellenic in spirit. Aris- 
tippus after the death of Socrates returned to his native city of 
Cyrene, and there established the Cyrenaic school, which 
lasted several generations. This school understood Socrates' 
teaching that one should act in accordance with his own in- 
terests and seek a life of pleasure, to mean the cultivation of 
personal pleasure as the highest good (egoistic hedonism). They 
put chief emphasis on the most enduring sensuous pleasures. 
They lost sight of the social spirit and higher idealism of Soc- 
rates. 

One of the youngest, but altogether the greatest of Socrates' 
pupils was Plato of Athens (t347 b.c). He was descended 
from one of the old noble families whose influence had waned 
with the advance of democracy. He lived in an age when the 
blunders of the Athenian assembly and law courts had facil- 
itated the decline of Athens from her old position of culture, 
power, and glory. Above all, he suffered the shock of the con- 
demnation of his beloved teacher, Socrates. For these reasons 
Plato was no lover of democracy. He estabhshed his school, 
the Academy near the grove of Academus, a public park in 
the suburbs of Athens, where it might be possible for him and 



114 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

his pupils to study philosophy unannoyed by the traffic of 
the streets and the agitation of popular gatherings. The Acad- 
emy remained little disturbed by the outside world and carried 
on scholarly investigations for nearly nine hundred years, 

Plato sought to develop moral principles by reasoning rather 
than by observation of the Socratic type. To do this more 
effectively, in his greatest book, the Republic, he describes an 
ideal city-state. All citizens of a state should be temperate, 
in the double sense of self-control of personal habits and of 
obedience to the laws and customs of the state; the military and 
police must be courageous as well as temperate, and the govern- 
ing class must possess wisdom in addition to the other virtues 
mentioned. Wisdom imphes thorough theoretical training in 
ultimate scientific principles as well as practical administrative 
experience. Justice, the cement that holds society together, 
can only exist in a city-state where all classes cooperate, where 
laws and pubUc pohcies are decided upon with wisdom, where 
external security and internal order are maintained with cour- 
age, and all are loyal and obedient. 

The psychology of the individual man is to be understood 
in the light of that of the state. In each man are reason, spirited 
emotions, and animal appetites. So his good as a whole is a 
kind of justice or harmony of character, in which conduct is 
directed by reason (wisdom), which implies right direction of 
his emotions (courage) and control of appetites (temperance). 
Such a character would be possible for all in a perfectly just 
and well ordered society. For everj'^body can at least be 
temperate and law-abiding, and the ordinary citizen would 
learn to act courageously and wisely in a society where those 
who excel in these more difficult virtues determine political 
pohcies and direct public opinion. Plato agreed with Socrates 
that virtue is knowledge and vice is ignorance, that justice is 
the health of the soul, that it is better to suffer injustice oneself 
than to do injustice to others, that it is a primary duty to be 
loyal to the state, and that right conduct is in accordance with 
a person's selfish interests provided one realizes what the in- 



MORAL DEVELOPMENT OF GREECE AND ROME 115 

terests of his true self really are. How far the good of man may 
ultimately be identified with pleasure or happiness, and how 
far the perfection of the soul implies other and higher goods 
impossible to state in terms of pleasure, are questions on which 
Plato gave somewhat different answers in dialogues written at 
different periods in his long life.^^ However, he is always con- 
fident that only the philosopher {i.e., the Hberally educated 
man who knows all goods, and has been trained to reason) is 
in a position to pass upon the ultimate values of life. 

Among the more doubtful points in Plato's moral philosophy 
are his emphasis upon the organic theory of the state and his 
partial advocacy of communistic socialism. He was confident 
that first consideration must always be for the good of the city- 
state as a whole, and that if this is assured, the good of each 
class of society and of each individual citizen will follow as a 
matter of course. He thought of citizens as closely interde- 
pendent like the different organs of the human body. To assure 
wisdom in government he vests supreme power in a ruling class, 
whose members have been selected in competitive examinations. 
These rulers or "guardians" are to have no private property 
of their own, live in barracks, and eat at common tables. Their 
marriages are to be regulated in accordance with eugenics. 
Their children are to be separated at an early age, so that 
children and parents will not know one another in after years. 
Under such conditions, the disinterested devotion of the guard- 
ians to the common good will be assured; they will conserve 
the property of the city-state unselfishly, and love all the chil- 
dren of the succeeding generation impartially, as if the property 
and children were their own. Few believers in the organic 
theory of the state, or socialism, or sex equality, or eugenics, 
in later times have so consistently and courageously thought 
out these doctrines to their ultimate logical consequences and 
proclaimed them so unreservedly. 

Plato was not contented with a formulation of ethical prin- 
ciples in the setting of a model city-state. To demonstrate that 
justice is not a merely human conception but an ultimate 



116 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

principle grounded in the very nature of the universe, he car- 
ried his ethical studies into the field of metaphysics. By keen 
logical reasoning, as well as by sublime flights of poetic imagina- 
tion, he maintained that general principles are more real than 
particular facts which can only be applications of them, that 
all is dependent in the last analysis on one universal and all 
embracing truth — the ultimate source of all justice, truth, and 
beauty — the Idea of the Good. The eternal justice of the 
universe implies human immortality, so the Republic closes 
with a consideration of this theme, intended to show that the 
good life will bring ultimate rewards and the evil life ultimate 
punishments, retributive and purgatorial, in the life beyond 
the grave. ^^ 

Plato's extreme rationalism and his fondness for absolute 
and unchanging principles prevented him from grasping the 
laws of moral progress. He could only outline the course of 
moral and social dissolution in the state and in the individual. 
His contributions, therefore, consist in the delineation of abso- 
lute and abstract ideals with great fertility of imagination and 
literary charm. Even more than other great classical moral 
philosophers, Plato must be studied for suggestiveness and 
inspiration rather than for accurate conclusions. The modern 
reader of Plato, by being impelled to think out the reasons for 
the philosopher's mistakes and refuting him, gains a firmer 
grasp upon ethical principles than he would obtain from a 
more orthodox but less stimulating writer. 

Aristotle (f 322 b.c), who had studied in the Academy dur- 
ing the last twenty years of Plato's life, afterwards established 
at the Lyceum the ''parapetetic school". Under the patronage 
of Alexander the Great, who in his youth had studied under 
Aristotle, the Lyceum became a great institution of research 
and instruction. As its head, Aristotle combined vast learn- 
ing with practical knowledge of men. His method in ethics 
reminds us in some ways more of Socrates than of Plato. His 
reasoning is strictly empirical, starting with facts gathered 
from observation and research, and making generalizations 



MORAL DEVELOPMENT OF GREECE AND ROME 117 

with caution. Moral principles disclose themselves in life and 
conduct; they do not exist off by themselves in a world of ab- 
stract ideas. 

Ethics ascertains the true good of mankind. And man is a 
social or political animal {zoon politikon) whose true nature is 
realized after social organization has progressed beyond the 
family and village to the city-state (polis). "For man as in 
his condition of complete development [i.e., in the city-state] 
is the noblest of all animals, so apart from law and justice he is 
vilest of all". *'^ So Ethics is really a part of Politics (political 
science and political philosophy). Like Socrates and Plato, 
Aristotle conceived ethical problems in terms of citizenship in 
a free state. 

The supreme good of man is eudaimonia, which really in- 
cludes what we mean by "happiness", "well being", "welfare", 
"perfection", and "self-realization". (For convenience, in this 
volume, eudaimonia and its adjective eudaimon will be re- 
ferred to as "happiness" and "happy", but it must be under- 
stood that these words have a special significance as used with 
reference to Aristotle, that is quite different from use in other 
connections.) Happiness for Aristotle is found in fulfilling one's 
real nature as a man. For pleasure attends the proper exercise 
of functions, and is not successfully sought as an end in itself. 
The characteristic function of a man, that which indicates his 
true nature and differentiates him from other animals, is his 
reason. So in the right exercise of reason is happiness to be 
found. A life of reason implies a settled character, i.e., the 
possession of virtue. Virtue alone does not guarantee happiness, 
but without it happiness is impossible. The ideally happy man 
is he who leads a life of perfect virtue, and is adequately fur- 
nished with external goods, and is otherwise prosperous. Solon 
was right that it is impossible to judge whether a man has been 
thus happy until after he is dead, and it is possible to review 
his life as a whole. 

Virtues are not innate; they are the reward of training and 
experience. Highest are the intellectual (dianoetic) virtues, e.g., 



118 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

the life of a scholar passed in disinterested study (theoria); 
the cultivation of these virtues is best and happiest and 
most like that of the gods.^^ The moral virtues are also indis- 
pensable. The possession of a moral virtue implies that a person 
has acquired a settled habit (hexis) of deliberate purpose, by 
which his impulses, desires and appetites are subjected to his 
reason. A virtue imphes self-knowledge and self-control, an 
understanding of the world, and responsiveness to personal 
and social demands. Many of the virtues stand midway 
between two extremes (vices), one of which is an excess and 
the other a deficiency in the proper trait. The virtue of cour- 
age is thus a "golden mean" between rashness and cowardice; 
truthfulness (about one's talents) between boastfulness and self- 
depreciation; liberality between prodigality and illiberaUty. 
The mean will lie at different points for different individuals; 
the courage of a soldier is more inclined toward rashness than 
cowardice, and different on occasion from that of a civilian; 
what constitutes liberality in expenditures depends upon one's 
resources. In general, Aristotle gives the sensible advice to 
endeavor to pull one's self in the direction opposite to one's 
inclinations, just as if one were to try to pull a crooked stick 
straight. 

A celebrated passage in the Ethics describes the virtue of 
"highmindedness". Many modern students of ethics admire 
this ideal, and many do not. This passage taken alone would 
not give a fair impression of Aristotle's ideal of the good life. 
However, it is a thoroughly characteristic presentation of some 
phases of the ideal held in the Hellenic period of what a man of 
high rank should be. 

"A highminded person seems to be one who regards himself 
as worthy of high things and who is worthy of them. . . . He 
estimates his own deserts aright, while others rate their deserts 
too high or too low. ... It needs no proof that highminded 
people are concerned with honor; for it is honor more than 
anything else of which the great regard themselves, and de- 
servedly regard themselves, as worthy. . . . The highminded 



MORAL DEVELOPMENT OF GREECE AND ROME 119 

man, as being worthy of the highest things, will be in the highest 
degree good, for the better man is always worthy of the highest 
things. ... It is difficult to be truly highminded, as it is 
impossible without the perfection of good breeding. . . . 

"He [i.e. the highminded man] will take a moderate view of 
wealth, political power, and good or ill fortune of all kinds, 
however it may occur. . . . [He] is not fond of encountering 
small dangers, nor is he fond of encountering dangers at all, as 
there are few things which he values [enough to endanger him- 
self for them]. But he is ready to encounter great dangers, and 
in the hour of danger is reckless of his life, because he feels that 
life is not worth Uving without honor. He is capable of con- 
ferring benefits but ashamed of receiving them, as in the one 
case he feels his superiority, and in the other his inferiority. . . . 
He will try to return a benefit which has been conferred upon 
him with interest, as then the original benefactor will actually 
become his debtor, and will have been the recipient of a ben- 
efit. . . . 

"It is characteristic, too, of the highminded man that he 
never, or hardly ever, asks a favor, that he is ready to do any- 
body a service, and that, though his bearing is stately toward 
persons of dignity and affluence, it is unassuming toward the 
middle class; for . . . while a dignified demeanor in dealing 
with the former is a mark of nobility, it is a mark of vulgarity 
in dealing with the latter, as it is like a display of strength at 
the expense of an invalid. . . . His performances will be rare, 
but they will be great and will win him a great name. He will, 
of course, be open in his hatreds and his friendships, as secrecy 
is an indication of fear. He will care for reality more than for 
reputation, he will be open in word and deed. . . . Nor will 
he bear grudges; for no one who is highminded will dwell upon 
the past, least of all upon past injuries; he will prefer to overlook 
them. He will not be a gossip, he will not talk much about. him- 
self or about anybody else; for he does not care to be praised 
himself or to get other people censured. On the other hand he 
will not be fond of praising other people. And not being a 



120 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

gossip, he will not speak evil of others, even of his enemies, 
except for the express purpose of insulting them. . . . 

"It seems too that the highminded man will be slow in his 
movements, his voice will be deep and his manner of speaking 
sedate ; for it is not likely that a man will be in a hurry, if there 
are not many things that he cares for, or that he will be em- 
phatic, if he does not regard anything as important, and these 
are the causes which make people speak in shrill tones and use 
rapid movements". ^^ 

Aristotle distinguishes two kinds of Justice, — Distributive, 
which has to do with the proper apportionment of wealth, 
honors, and other goods in a well ordered state, and Corrective 
Justice. The latter is subdivided into Voluntary, deaUng with 
contracts and similar civil relations into which one enters of 
his own accord, and Involuntary, dealing with the punishment 
of crimes and torts. He distinguishes between law and equity; 
between what is legally and morally right; and between crimes 
that are premeditated, those prompted by passion, and injuries 
caused by accident. Many of the broad features of law and 
social ethics were laid down by him for all time. He relies 
mainly upon individual initiative to effect justice in the eco- 
nomic order, and thinks, Hke Adam Smith, that prices are likely 
to be rightly determined by demand and supply in an open 
competitive market. His criticism, in the Politics, of the 
socialistic and communistic doctrines of Plato's Republic antic- 
ipates many of the arguments advanced by modern individ- 
ualists in refutation of similar doctrines to-day. 

Two delightfully written chapters on Friendship or Love 
(Philia) contain a masterly analysis of a virtue which he says 
is indispensable in all ages and circumstances of life. It is in- 
stinctive between the members of a family, and is social as the 
bond that holds states together. The motives that lead to 
friendship are diverse; friendships based on mutual interest and 
utility and those based on pleasure and hospitality are legitimate 
in their place; but perfect friendship or love is based on virtue, 
on the desire of the friend's good for the friend's sake, and 



MORAL DEVELOPMENT OF GREECE AND ROME 121 

such friendships alone are permanent. The various aspects of 
friendship and love in the relations of husband, wife, children, 
masters, servants, rulers, subjects, and fellow citizens are 
thoughtfully drawn, and leave little for later ethics to add, ex- 
cept for the more religious phases of Love and Benevolence that 
have been distinctively a Christian contribution to modern ethics. 

Aristotle's empiricism is shown in his discussion of the merits 
of different political constitutions. Any government, whether 
by a king, an aristocracy, or the people, is normal if actuated 
by a regard for the community, and a perversion if the class 
in power favor itself at the cost of the common welfare. He 
hesitates as to which form of government is absolutely the 
best, but inclines — in some passages at least — toward a govern- 
ment by all the citizens in states in which the general average 
of inteUigence and virtue is high, since a large group is more 
likely to be wise collectively and less liable to passion and prej- 
udice than a small group. Control is safer in the hands of the 
middle class, than of either the very rich or the poor. Mechanics 
and artisans are deficient in virtue, and not to be trusted 
with political control. 

In states where only a small group has high civic ideals and 
capacities an aristocracy is best; where a state is attached 
to a capable royal family, a monarchy may be best. Education 
is indispensable to make any kind of state successful, and educa- 
tional aims and methods are discussed at length. Aristotle is 
confident that natural inequalities exist among mankind. 
Some people are naturally incapable of free Citizenship. Some 
races of mankind, barbarians, are naturally unable to care for 
themselves properly; therefore it is right for the Greeks to en- 
slave them. Women and children are naturally inferior to men 
in intelHgence and virtue. A man should rule his wife like a 
magistrate in a free state, his children like a king, and his slaves 
like a benevolent despot. However, Aristotle concedes that 
all individuals should have as much freedom as they are capable 
of using intelligently. His statements are evidently based on 
extensive and discriminating observation and study of condi- 



122 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

tions in the Greek world of his time. For it they were justified. 
From a modern point of view his chief error is the failure to 
realize that those who were in inferior conditions about him — 
barbarians, mechanics, artisans, women, slaves — could have 
acquired intelligence and character in a more favorable social 
environment. He charged to differences in natural capacities 
much that we now know was the consequence of differences of 
opportunity. 

As compared with Plato, Aristotle gives larger recognition 
to individuals, and so makes more room for individualization; 
the state exists to afford a good life for its citizens, and not vice 
versa. He does not make the Socratic and Platonic mistake of 
identifying virtue with knowledge alone; virtue is a rational 
habit in control of impulses. His ethics emphasizes sociaHza- 
tion; the full good of the individual is only possible in a free 
state. His ethics is in the best sense a profoundly rationalizing 
interpretation of the life and experience of the Greek civiliza- 
tion which he knew. 

VI. Hellenistic and Roman Ethics 

The Hellenic (or purely Greek) period ends with Aristotle. 
The Hellenistic period follows, in which philosophers were not 
necessarily strictly Greek in blood and culture. They were 
sometimes crude in expression and outlook; but all spoke and 
wrote Greek of a kind, and all had a more cosmopolitan vision 
than the thinkers of earlier periods. The Macedonian conquest 
broke down invidious distinctions between Greeks and barba- 
rians, and between citizens of different Greek states. In this 
way its effect on moral philosophy was good. On the other 
hand, in the partial reversion to Authority, it no longer re- 
mained possible to define the moral life in terms of citizenship 
in a free city-state; some other standpoint must be found, and 
until this was done satisfactorily, ethical systems appeared 
that were less well rounded than that of Aristotle, and over- 
emphasized some aspect of life at the cost of other aspects. For 
all schools, the necessity of a reflective standpoint was apprc- 



MORAL DEVELOPMENT OF GREECE AND ROME 123 

dated; and for all, the problem was, How should a wise man, 
since he can no longer identify his good with citizenship in a 
free state, but must rely upon himself, so act as to secure for him- 
self the most satisfactory life? 

Epicurus (t 270 B.C.) a native of Samos, but of Athenian 
descent, came to Athens fifteen years after the death of Aris- 
totle and opened a new school in his private Garden.*" He is 
said to have suffered great sorrows in early life, and later to have 
arrived at a moral philosophy in which he found peace. This 
he was ready to impart to others. An amiable friend, of spotless 
character, who attracted many followers, both men and women, 
as well as a diligent scholar who wrote many treatises, he so 
thoroughly developed his system and indoctrinated his pupils 
with it, that it remained the teaching of the school practically 
without modification for centuries. A wise man should find his 
happiness in his own inward peace of mind. He can then survey 
external events over which he has no control with imperturb- 
ability (ataraxia). This is a somewhat unusual form of hedon- 
ism, for while happiness is identified with pleasure, the active 
pursuit of pleasures is not commended so much as inward 
calmness. It is in this respect different from the Cyrenaic 
school. A temperate and frugal life is best, with necessities 
provided and enjoyed, but without the cares of wealth. Such 
a life is free from desires and passions, pains and disappoint- 
ments. Friends should be cultivated, for in friendship is greatest 
happiness found. Marriage and the bringing up of children, 
although not forbidden, were regarded with some disfavor 
because of the anxieties and responsibilities involved. For 
similar reasons, the Epicurean was not disposed to engage in 
political activities. Even intellectual pursuits, except so far 
as they were of practical value in relation to the moral life, were 
regarded as irksome and of little consequence. 

The ethical outlook of Epicureanism was supported ■ by a 
mechanistic metaphysics which taught that all things, including 
the soul of man, are combinations of material atoms. Man is 
therefore mortal, and need fear none of the hells described by 



124 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

Plato and the popular religious cults. The gods are uncon- 
cerned with men; they lead a sheltered and happy life; the 
Epicurean need only take them into account so far as con- 
templation of them affords him delight in literature and art. 
Man's will is free; he is no slave of circumstance, but may, 
if he is wise, choose the serene and truly pleasurable life of the 
Epicurean. 

Such a moral philosophy had merits. It taught men in an 
age of despotic repression contentment in the cultivation of 
friendship and aesthetic pleasures. It liberated men from the 
superstitious fears that increasingly weighed upon them in an 
age of religious decay. It was kindly and tolerant, free from 
fanaticism and bigotry. The Roman poets Lucretius and 
Horace present the Epicurean view with great attractiveness. 
However, at best. Epicureanism tended toward social irre- 
sponsibility; and often, especially among the Romans of the 
last century of the republic and during the empire, its hedonistic 
teachings were misunderstood. Many who were led by it to 
believe that the best life is that which contains most pleasure 
and least pain, failed to realize that only such a life as that of 
Epicurus himself can meet this requirement. And as the 
philosophy knew of no rational way to evaluate pleasures except 
by appeal to the individual's own experience, it had no means 
by which to show a man of narrow sensual outlook the falseness 
of his standard of happiness. So many of the Roman Epicureans 
led Kves that brought the school into bad repute. 

A very different moral philosophy was presented by the 
school opened in 294 b.c. at Athens in the Stoa (a famous painted 
Porch) and so known as the Stoics. ^^ The founder and two 
succeeding heads of the school were Zeno (f 264 b.c), Cleanthes 
(t 232 B.C.) and Chrysippus (f 204 B.C.). Zeno was probably 
of Hebrew descent, with a temperament like the sterner prophets 
of Israel. ■*" All three were Hellenists with little of the old Hellenic 
culture and love of moderation and symmetry, notwithstanding 
the fact that Cleanthes' Hymn to Zeus is one of the world's 
sublimest religious poems. 



MORAL DEVELOPMENT OF GREECE AND ROME 125 

The wise man, according to Stoicism, will live in accordance 
with nature, and lead a life of absolute virtue for its own sake. 
Thus alone can happiness be found. The wise man, according 
to the early Stoics (in opposition to Aristotle) will render him- 
self absolutely free from all desires and emotions; a state of 
apathy (apatheia) so that no outward circumstances that may 
come to him — health, riches, honor, poverty, sickness, disgrace, 
approaching death — will greatly concern him ; for none of these 
things can affect his character. In contrast to the Epicureans, 
the early Stoics insisted that the wise man will seek no pleasures, 
not even the pleasure of moral excellence; for the pursuit of 
pleasure is no proper object of moral effort. The early Stoics 
advised men not to marry nor engage in politics, and in general 
to keep aloof from any social contacts that might interfere with 
concentration upon a life of absolute integrity. This last alone 
gives true contentment; no misfortune can take it away. So it 
is best not to care too much for anybody or anything external 
to one's self and not completely within one's own power. The 
wise man is absolutely without fault, he alone is beautiful, 
rich and happy, since he has virtue, and that alone is of worth 
and can afford contentment. The wise man, during his Ufe 
time, in no way falls short of the happiness of Zeus. And all 
are either wise men or fools: there can be no middle ground, 
and most men are fools, ignorant, wicked, unhappy, cowardly, 
impious, mad. Socrates, Diogenes, Antisthenes, and (in Roman 
times) Cato were exemplars of wise men. The actual passage 
from folly to the state of wisdom is instantaneous, a kind of 
conversion. Stern and pitiless in discipline of himself, the 
earlier Stoic sometimes was cruel in treatment of others. ^^ 

In an age of moral laxity, when the old mores of the city- 
state were breaking down under imperialism and cosmopoHtan- 
ism, we can see that such a standpoint in some ways had excel- 
lence. But its harsh self-righteousness is repellent. Moreover, 
it bred bigots and fanatics, as is inevitable in an ethics that 
regards only motives, is heedless of consequences, and insists 
that a man should carry out his inflexible duty and enforce 



126 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

rigorous justice, though the heavens fall. However, it enabled 
men to lead lives of dogged endurance in an age when endurance 
was often called for. If a Stoic's life became absolutely in- 
tolerable through the weakness of age, incurable disease, dire 
poverty, the decay of mental powers, the tyranny of a despot, 
or other extreme circumstances, he believed it his moral right 
to bring it to a voluntary end."*^ 

In its later evolution, especially in Roman imperial times, 
Stoicism became greatly mollified in its harsher features. 
Stoics came to realize that there is a large region of goods that 
one may seek and enjoy without hurt to one's conscience, even 
if they do not directly contribute to the cultivation of virtue. 
All pleasures are not wrong. Moreover, we are in a social 
world; no one can live wholly to himself. Men ought to marry, 
be good neighbors and citizens, and help carry on the tasks of 
government which require the efforts of honest men even in 
an empire. Mercy and kindness, even to wrongdoers, became 
a virtue. So Stoicism, thus softened and sweetened, produced 
men like Seneca, an emperor's minister, and the emperors 
Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, great ad- 
ministrators who governed earnestly, mercifully, and faith- 
fully, and found that the Stoic ideal of virtue and duty could 
best be realized in lives of service. No moral system has ex- 
celled Stoicism in its absolute separation of virtue and duty 
from inclination and selfish interests. 

Stoicism, though primarily an ethic, made moral philosophy 
rest upon metaphysical and religious foundations. The Stoics 
knew enough science to believe that in some sense everything 
is composed of matter and moves in space. But this did not 
lead them to a materialism of a mechanistic kind like that of 
Epicurus. The whole world, though material like our own 
bodies, is knit together into a harmonious organic whole, and 
has a soul {'pneuma) of its own, — God. All of us are expres- 
sions of the universal Reason (Logos) ; there is a divine spark in 
each of us, all are brothers, children of a common Father. We 
should think of oni'selves as fellow citizens, not of .\thens or 



MORAL DEVELOPMENT OF GREECE AND ROME 127 

Sparta, but of the universe. The world is one city of gods and 
men. So, at least in theory, the cosmopolitanism of the world 
empire for the Stoic broke down invidious distinctions between 
races, bond and free, men and women. All is willed by God; 
but we have freedom of assent; we can commit our wills to 
Him, and in carrying out His purposes we can realize our own. 
The earlier aloofness to other persons and events became, in 
the later Stoicism, simply a heroic resolution to bear misfortunes 
cheerfully, and to carry on one's work manfully. 

Stoicism was a form of pantheism. God is identified with 
the material universe, or at most distinguished as its soul. He 
has ordered the world as a whole for the best, and men ought 
to commit themselves to Him. But there is no room to think 
of God as a particular Providence, personally accessible to each 
individual in prayer; and the Stoic was hesitant about con- 
tinued personal existence after death. Believing in the abso- 
lute goodness of God and the universe, the Stoics had to ac- 
count for the presence of evil. They advanced most of the 
philosophical explanations since adopted by Christian and 
Jewish theology. Physical evils like tempests and human 
diseases cannot affect character, and so they are really not evil 
at all; they are due to natural causes framed by God for pur- 
poses that on the whole are good; many things are evil only 
because they are misused; others that at first appear evil 
prove to be of the greatest value. Moral evils must exist be- 
cause of the free will of men; they are necessary to make pos- 
sible the development of human character; without evil there 
could be no good; all evil will ultimately be turned by God to 
good; and so on. 

The moral advance made by later Stoicism in its ideal of a 
good life, illustrated by the case of a man of commanding 
eminence, may well be seen in the contrast between Aristotle's 
description of the high-minded man and Marcus Aurelius' 
delineation of the character of his distinguished predecessor 
and adopted father, the emperor Antoninus Pius : 

"From my father I learned gentleness, and unshaken adher- 



128 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

ence to judgments deliberately formed; indifference to out- 
ward show and compliment; industry and assiduity; an ear 
open to all suggestions for the public weal; recognition inflex- 
ibly proportioned to desert; the tact that knew when to insist 
and when to relax; chaste habits and disinterested aims. His 
friends had free leave to forego the imperial table, or miss 
attendance in his suite, and he took no umbrage at those who 
were detained on various calls. At the council-board he pushed 
inquiries pertinaciously, where others would have held their 
hand, content with first impressions. His loyalty to friends 
was free from fickleness or extravagance. He rose to the oc- 
casion, always, with a smile. . . . Vigilant in providing for 
imperial needs, he husbanded his resources, and put up with 
the inevitable grumbling. In his relations with the gods he 
was not superstitious; while with men, he neither courted 
popularity nor pandered to the mob, but was in all points 
sober and safe, distrusting flash or novelty. . . . He did honor 
to all true philosophers; to the rest he was civil, but he kept 
his distance all the same. His manner was friendly; gracious, 
but not excessive. In attention to the body he hit the happy 
mean; ... his wise self-management made him almost in- 
dependent of doctoring, medicines or salves. He was forward 
and generous in recognizing talent, in rhetoric for instance or 
jurisprudence or history, or any other subject; and eager to 
assist any to shine in the sphere of their choice. Sound Roman 
through and through, he never studied appearances. Free 
from caprice or humors, he kept constant to the same places 
and the same things. After paroxysms of headache, he was 
back fresh and vigorous at his usual tasks. His official secrets 
were few, the rare and occasional exceptions being solely mat- 
ters of state. . . . There was nothing fractious about him, no 
black looks or fits; he never forced things, as one says, 'past 
sweating point'; but was invariably rational and discriminating 
— giving judgments leisurely, calm, suitable, vigorous and con- 
sistent. One might fairly adapt to him what is recorded of 
Socrates, that he could either enjoy or leave things which most 



MORAL DEVELOPMENT OF GREECE AND ROME 129 

people find themselves too weak to abstain from, and too self- 
indulgent to enjoy." ^^ 

In most respects the Romans added little to the Hellenic 
and Hellenistic systems of moral philosophy. Their genius 
was practical and administrative, and writers like Cicero (f 43 
B.C.) and Seneca (f 65 a.d.) merely took from Greek philosophy 
what they found suggestive and helpful, and applied it in a 
popular and untechnical way to the topics in which their con- 
temporaries were interested. A philosophical point of view is 
helpful in every problem of life: how to appreciate friendship 
and reconcile one's self to the infirmities of old age, how to 
worship the gods avoiding superstition, the value of clemency 
especially on the part of a prince, how to enjoy leisure and 
control anger, and the like. Through such contributions Greek 
ethics not only proved helpful to the Romans of those times, 
but became firmly planted in the western moral tradition that 
has come down to us. 

The most important original contribution of the Romans to 
the moral development of Europe was in the field of law and 
jurisprudence. An account of this cannot be attempted here, 
since it was largely a movement within the law itself — decisions 
of courts, opinions of jurists, legislation by the senate and other 
deliberative bodies, and edicts of princes. However, Stoic phi- 
losophy exercised an important though external influence on 
it that must be briefly noticed. 

Cicero affirmed many Stoic conceptions and gave them a 
juristic tone. In his Republic and Laws he says that the origin 
of justice is to be sought in the divine or natural law of eternal 
and immutable morality, known to man because he participates 
in the divine reason. All races of mankind share in the same 
reason and the same senses, and make the same moral judg- 
ments, approving kindness, benignity and gratitude and detest- 
ing arrogance, malice, and cruelty. ''There is a true law, a 
right reason, conformable to nature, universal, unchangeable, 
eternal, whose commands urge us to duty, and whose prohibi- 
tions restrain us from evil. . . . This law cannot be contra- 



130 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

dieted by any other law, and is not liable either to derogation 
or abrogation. ... It needs no other expositor and interpreter 
than our own conscience. It is not one thing at Rome and 
another at Athens; one thing today and another tomorrow; 
but in all times and nations this universal law must forever 
reign, eternal and imperishable. It is the sovereign master and 
emperor of all beings. God himself is its author, — its promul- 
gator, — its enforcer." *^ 

Seneca does not use the phrase "natural law", but he affirms 
the natural equality of mankind, and the general Stoic concep- 
tions on the subject. He teaches that the slave is of the same 
nature as his master, and the difference in their positions is due 
to fortune and not to inequality in natural capacities. Slaves 
can be just, brave, and magnanimous; the institution of 
slavery has no justification in nature, and is hateful to all 
men.'*'' 

The Roman jurists of the empire were confronted by a 
practical problem. The Civil Law of the city of Rome (ius 
civile) had slowly developed from time immemorial, and re- 
tained all kinds of anomalies and anachronisms, including dis- 
tinctions in rights and status that no longer were in accordance 
with moral sentiments and practical convenience. On the 
other hand, the praetors had gradually been developing another 
body of law (ius gentium) for foreigners resident or doing busi- 
ness in Rome, and for the administration of the provinces. At 
first the ius gentium had been looked down upon as inferior law 
for those not entitled to the full privilege of Roman citizenship. 
But since the praetors had had a freer hand in developing the 
ius gentium, making use of precedents from all over the world, 
including the older and more experienced cities of the East, this 
had become in many respects the more rational law of the two. 
Under these circumstances it became desirable for the citizens 
of Rome to have the benefit of the better features of the ius 
gentium, and for this and the ius civile to be assimilated to one 
another. In consequence, therefore, there arose a tendency to 
identify the ius gentium with the Stoic conception of a natural 



MORAL DEVELOPMENT OF GREECE AND ROME 131 

law (ius naturale) universal in its applications, and revealed to 
some extent in the laws of all nations. At times in the history 
of legal progress some broadly unifying philosophical concep- 
tion has done much to hasten advance, setting up a distinct 
object to aim at in improvement. Just as Bentham's principle 
that the good of the community must take precedence over 
every other object gave a clear rule of reform in England and 
elsewhere in the first half of the nineteenth century, this con- 
ception of a law of nature did much to reform Roman law 
under the empire."*^ 

The Stoic conception of the equality of mankind in natural 
law must, in combination with other influences, have done 
much to further the reforms under the empire by which the 
condition of the slave was mitigated and he was given some 
legal rights; by which women came upon a more nearly equal 
plane with men regarding marriage, divorce, property, and 
personal rights; and those by which free men of all nations 
came to enjoy the rights of Roman citizens. The Stoic doc- 
trines, too, helped no doubt to strengthen the tradition of the 
Roman jurists that all the powers of government, even those of 
the emperor himself, were ultimately derived from the consent 
of the people. 

Nor was it a benefit to the ancient world only that such moral 
conceptions became embodied in Roman law and tradition. 
In modern times, the doctrine that all men are by nature free 
and equal has received new applications in the fields of political, 
religious, and economic liberty of which the Roman jurists 
never dreamed. The modern bills of rights in our constitutions, 
and the more recent movements for conferring equal rights and 
opportunities upon slaves, women, and workingmen may be 
said in some measure to have their roots in Stoic philosophy. 
Movements for the development of international law, the pre- 
vention and mitigation of warfare, and a better spirit in the 
relations between nations, greatly modified though they now 
are, can be traced back to the revival in the seventeenth cen- 
tury by Grotius of ancient ideals and practices. ^^ 



132 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

VII. Ethics and Religion 

Stoicism, as we have seen, attempted to ground ethics in a 
reUgious and metaphysical view of the world. In some respects, 
the later Stoics did attempt to establish a religion. Their 
philosophers, dressed in a distinctive costume, conducted serv- 
ices, delivered sermons, wrote tracts and epistles. Socrates 
and other saintly men of the past were praised as models whom 
men ought to follow. But the appeal of such a philosophy was 
too coldly intellectual to grip the masses. It could only reach 
a limited few. 

Other philosophical and religious movements appearing from 
time to time sought to enlist religion more adequately as a 
sanction for the moral life. Among the more philosophical 
movements was that at Alexandria with Philo Judaeus (f 50 
A.D.) as its most renowned leader. This sought to reconcile 
Judaism with Greek philosophy. The Neoplatonism of Ploti- 
nus (t 269 A.D.) sought a higher moral life through mystical 
absorption in the Deity. These movements were also too intel- 
lectual to reach the masses, while their ethical merits on the 
whole were inferior to later Stoicism. The various mj'stery 
religions, notable among which were the mysteries of Cybele, 
Isis, and Mithra, made a more vivid emotional appeal through 
ritual, with sacraments in which water, bread, and wine were 
employed; and the assurance of personal immortalitj' was 
given to those who dedicated themselves to the service of the 
god. But such rehgions contained gross and superstitious 
rites and doctrines that offended the refinement and intelligence 
of the cultivated man. 

All these movements, however, prepared the pagan mind for 
the acceptance of a new religion, and help to explain its rapid 
growth. Christianity taught whole-hearted consecration to 
duty as emphatically as Stoicism, and like it, recognized that 
all men are children of a common heavenly Father. It was 
able to add a tender emotional appeal, in which love, a virtue 
scarcely noticed by the Stoics, played a dominant part. As a 



MORAL DEVELOPMENT OF GREECE AND ROME 133 

model for all men to follow, it had the blameless Jesus, whom 
the Gospel of John proclaimed to be the Logos (or Word) 
incarnate in the form of a man who had lived in recent times. 
So the Logos became concrete, human, personal, and was 
brought down from Heaven to earth. Instead of citizenship 
in a universal city-state of gods and men that at best was only 
a shadowy ideal, the Christian had a highly organized holy 
cathoUc church, to which he was devotedly loyal, and which 
he believed to be the bride of Christ. Instead of wandering 
philosophers, he had a zealous and well-disciplined clergy. 
Instead of miscellaneous and somewhat contradictory philosoph- 
ical treatises written at various times during many centuries, 
he had in the New Testament a canon of sacred books all writ- 
ten within three quarters of a century of one another, and pre- 
senting a more harmonious point of view. He had a more 
inclusive and more humanly appealing moral system. He be- 
lieved in personal prayer to a personal God. He was so confident 
of personal immortality that he was willing to undergo martyr- 
dom rather than renounce his religion. Christianity had more 
to offer its converts than any of its rivals. In the course of 
three centuries it spread through the known civilized world, 
and became the established religion of the empire. 

REFERENCES 

* J. Dewey and J. H. Tufts, Ethics, chap. VII. 

* F. Paulsen, Ethics, Part I, chaps. I, III. 

* L. T. Hobhouse, Morals in Evolution, Part II, chap. VI. 

* T. De Laguna, Introduction to the Science of Ethics, chaps. VI-IX. 

* J. A. Leighton, Field of Philosophy, chaps. VI-IX. 

* G. P. Conger, A Course in Philosophy, chaps. IX-XII. 

* W. K. Wright, A Student's Philosophy of Religion, chap. IX. 

* G. Lowes Dickinson, The Greek View of Life. 

* W. Warde Fowler, The City-State of the Greeks and Romans, esp. 

chap. VI. 

* W. S. Ferguson, Greek Imperialism, pp. 38-78, 116-148. Hellenistic 

Athens. 



134 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

* A. K. Rogers, .4 Student's History of Philosophy. 

* F. Thilly, A History of Philosophy. 

* H. E. Cushman, A History of Ancient Philosophy. 

Walter Pater, Plato and Platonisni. Marius the Epicurean. 

Matthew Arnold, Essays in Criticism. Culture and Anarchy. 

R. W. Livingstone, The Greek Genitis and its Meaning to Us. 

Fustel de Coulanges, The Ancient City. 

Th. Gomperz, Greek Thinkers. 

A. E. Zimmern, The Greek Commonwealth. 

Samuel Dill, Roman Society from Nero to Marcus Aureliu^. 

W. E. H. Lecky, History of European Morals. 

J. B. Bury, History of Greece. 

L. V. Schmidt, Ethik der alien Griechen. 

W. H. S. Jones, Greek Morality. 



CHAPTER VI 
CHRISTIANITY 

I. Introductory 

Christianity, the dominant rehgion in the Occident for sixteen 
centuries, has exercised a profound influence upon moral evolu- 
tion. It will be impossible to outline here the long course of 
ethical development within the Christian church, closely allied 
as it has been with political and social history, and the succes- 
sion of theological systems. However, a few outstanding con- 
tributions that Christianity has made to our moral tradition 
can be indicated.^ 

Two preliminary comments need to be made. First, it 
should be noted that Christianity is not an ethical system with 
religious sanctions like those of Plato and the Stoics; on the 
contrary, it is an ethical religion, something quite different. As 
a religion, its first concern has been to bring men in some way 
into proper relations with God through Jesus Christ — the pre- 
cise manner has varied in different periods and theological 
systems. As an ethical religion, it has taught many ideals that 
have grown with the moral development of western civiliza- 
tion, without losing the characteristic stamp that they received 
in New Testament times under the influence of Jesus. In its 
best periods, the moral ideals of Christianity have shone 
clearly and enhghtened mankind ; there have been other periods 
when the subordination of ethics to theology proved less favor- 
able to moral progress. Since the Reformation, ethics has 
gradually escaped from its subordinate position, and reflection 
on the moral life has come to be regarded, at least in philosophi- 
cal circles, as properly a cause rather than a consequence of 
belief in religion. 

135 



136 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

The second preliminary observation is, that there is no one 
ethical system that can exclusively claim the designation of Chris- 
tian Ethics. Every moral philosopher who has professed and 
called himself a Christian has believed his to be a (if not the) 
true system of Christian ethics. Moreover, no moral principle 
loses its place as a part of Christian ethics because it has origi- 
nated independently of Christianity, or is held by some who 
are not Christians. Every teacher of Christian morality, be- 
ginning with Jesus himself, has taken for granted most of the 
moral tradition of his time, only criticizing and correcting it in 
order to meet pressing personal and social problems. Christian- 
ity in every age has assimilated moral teachings that had in- 
dependent origin, made them part of its moral tradition, and 
so handed them down to later ages. All true ethics is Christian 
ethics; and Christianity teaches no moral principles that are 
contrary to the best reasoning and observation of moral philoso- 
phers generally. (Statements similar to those of this paragraph 
can rightly be made by the modern Jew with respect to Jewish 
ethics.) 

II. Moral Teachings of the New Testament 

The outstanding feature of New Testament morals is love 
of God and men, and discipleship of Jesus Christ. The whole 
of the Law, Jesus taught, is summed up in the commandment to 
love God with all one's heart, mind, soul, and strength, and 
one's neighbor as oneself. In the synoptic gospels (Matthew, 
Mark, Luke), Jesus speaks with authority, and his teachings 
are lovingly accepted as morally obligatory. The burning 
desire of Paul, throughout all his letters, is that he may lead as 
many as possible to a life in union with God through the accept- 
ance of Jesus as Lord and Saviour. The Fourth Gospel (John) 
proclaims Jesus to be the Stoic Logos (Word) become flesh, and 
puts first emphasis on complete union with God through him. 

The personality of Jesus in the simple grandeur and pathos 
of his life and death has profoundly impressed the western 
moral consciousness. There is something tender and compelling 



CHRISTIANITY 137 

about all that he says and does, that has gripped the hearts of 
mankind. Moral precepts conceived in terms of loyalty to 
him, and through him to God, are warm and vital; they make 
a profound and personal appeal to human emotions and desires, 
and transform sentiments and character, as the teachings of 
no mere philosopher — not even Socrates — ever has been able 
to do. Perhaps this is the most important contribution of 
Christianity to the moral tradition, — the personalization of the 
moral appeal through its identification with Jesus, and through 
him, with God. 

An individual makes moral progress through self-renunciation 
in the service of God and Christ, and identification with the 
'^ kingdom'^ or '^church'\ Jesus says, according to Matthew, 
"If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and 
take up his cross and follow me. For whosoever would save his 
life shall lose it, and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall 
find it." (Matthew XVI. 24, 25.) In such self-renunciation, 
even at the cost of suffering and death, the early Christian 
thought that he gained perfect freedom (Galatians V; cf. James 
I. 25). A person's will is free when he is expressing his true 
desires and finding self-reahzation; only in the higher life in 
peace with God, attained through discipleship of Christ, could 
this be won and a person's true vocation found. 

The individual could believe that through complete sub- 
mission to God and Christ he would gain real freedom because 
of the inestimable worth of the individual soul to God, beautifully 
expressed, for instance, in the parable of the "lost sheep", the 
"lost coin", and the "prodigal son" (Luke XV). As an in- 
dividual child can turn in confident petition to a loving parent, 
so Jesus teaches his followers to pray to a personal God who loves 
and cares for them as individuals. Since it is the dwelHng 
place of his soul, the body of the individual is also sacred and 
holy— a "temple of the holy Ghost" (I Corinthians VI. 19); 
and his glorified body is assured physical resurrection (I Corin- 
thians XV ; Philippians III. 21) . The individual, both body and 
soul, redeemed, and glorified, will be saved to a fife of blessed 



138 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

immortality if he is faithful in acceptance of the grace of Christ. 
Thus we see that Christianity has been a potent individualizing 
influence in moral evolution. 

This individualizing tendency makes morality assume a form 
of ethical inwardness. This conception of inwardness, by no 
means unknown to Jew and Stoic, is given a new and tender em- 
phasis in Christian teaching. It is blessed to be humble, meek, 
merciful, pure in heart, peaceable, to hunger and thirst after 
righteousness. Such motives must be strictly inward, basic in 
one's character. Wrongdoing is the consequence of wrong 
inner motives; it is thoughts and feelings of anger that lead to 
murder, of lust to adultery, of boastfulness to profanity and 
perjury. One should love all men, including one's enemies, 
praying for them and forgiving them, in accordance with the 
Golden Rule. In all things a person must endeavor to be per- 
fect, as God is perfect. Thus he will feel in unity with God. 
He will be able to trust in His protecting care, knowing that 
if he seeks first His kingdom and His righteousness, all needful 
things will be provided. 

This strongly individualized moral attitude of the New 
Testament, unlike Hellenic ethics, is not the perfection of man 
as a natural being. Unregenerated human nature is essentially 
evil; it can only be corrected by a complete rebirth or religious 
awakening (Ephesians II. 1-3; Romans VII. 5, VIII. 5-8; John 
III. 1-7). To a certain extent this rebirth reminds one of 
Stoicism; but the differences are, that for the Christian this is 
not to be effected by his own efforts, but by trust in divine grace, 
and it is a reconstitution rather than a suppression of his emo- 
tional nature. It assumes a deep and genuine contrition for his 
sins. The value of thus frankly facing the evil in one's life 
and with the help of religion making a complete break with it, 
is manifest. The harm that sometimes has attended modern 
revivalism, with its insistence that the conversion must be a 
spectacular emotional upheaval, has been due to a misinter- 
pretation of New Testament teaching that was made during 
the eighteenth century. 



CHRISTIANITY 139 

Three Christian virtues conspicuous in the New Testament 
that are not mentioned in Greek ethics are faith — trust in the 
guidance of God and hence resolution to carry out His will; 
hope — confidence in the victory through God of the good; and 
charity (or "love", agape) a distinctively Christian virtue 
different in many ways from what Plato meant by love (eras) 
or Aristotle (philia). Charity is an indispensable virtue; with- 
out it other virtues are worthless. Charity positively implies 
kindness, patience, and endurance, as well as freedom from 
envy, jealousy, anger, spitefulness, boastfulness, self-display, 
and mahce (I Corinthians XIII). It requires helpfulness to all 
those in need, given with loving interest and sympathy, as in 
the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke X. 25-37). Combined 
with personal integrity it constitutes pure religion in the worship 
of God the Father (James I. 27). It is the earlier Hebrew virtue 
of love of neighbor, applied more intensely and whole-heartedly, 
not to fellow countrymen alone, but to all men. It enjoins 
many of the same actions to which a later Stoic would have felt 
impelled from a sense of duty; but charity requires that the 
service rendered should be done with a spirit of tenderness and 
sympathy quite in contrast to Stoic apathy. The teaching of 
charity has led Christians in all ages to the establishment of 
hospitals, schools, orphanages, and philanthropic institutions of 
every kind, and much private benevolence. The latter in ancient 
and medieval times led to open-handed almsgiving that was 
well intended, though not in accordance with sound economics. 

The doctrine of the universal mission of the religion is an 
assumption by Christianity of what the second Isaiah conceived 
to be the mission of Israel.^ In the sight of God all have spir- 
itual equality, regardless of race, sex, social, or economic status. 
Gentiles, as Paul established, might become Christians with- 
out conforming to Jewish ritual. This conception of the spir- 
itual equality of all mankind had important consequences in 
subsequent moral evolution. Paul taught Philemon, the Chris- 
tian master of a runaway slave named Onesimus, to regard his 
slave as a brother in Christ (Philemon: cf. Colossians IV. 9). 



140 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

Christians treated their slaves kindly, and often emanci- 
pated them. After Christians came into imperial power they 
strengthened the earlier legislation of Roman jurists under the 
influence of Stoicism for the protection of slaves. When aboli- 
tion of slavery and serfdom at last in modern times became 
economically feasible, the Christian tradition operated to 
awaken the conscience of Christendom. Belief in the personal 
equality of mankind has, moreover, strengthened demands for 
human equality in other respects, — for political, religious, cul- 
tural, and industrial freedom and opportunity, as well as for the 
emancipation of women. 

The New Testament is everywhere emphatic that hojne life 
must he pure, that the "single standard" in sexual conduct 
applies to men and women alike, that abortion and infanticide 
and all forms of sex perversions are to be absolutely forbidden, 
that men and women should be pure in thought and words as 
well as in outward conduct. In all aspects of sexual purity 
Christianity has immeasurably improved the mores of Europe, 
which were extremely low in these matters at the time of its 
advent. 

Thus far all that has been said of New Testament moral 
teaching is probably quite generally agreed upon. It is now 
necessary to touch upon some important but disputed points 
in which diverse interpretations of the New Testament have 
greatly influenced subsequent moral evolution. 

Roman Catholics interpret the New Testament to forbid 
divorce absolutely, and to brand the remarriage of divorced 
persons as adultery. Eastern Catholics and most Protestants 
believe that the New Testament permits divorce because of 
adultery; and many of them add that at least by implication 
it allows divorce on all grounds so grave that continuance in 
the marriage relation would be morally unwholesome for 
spouses and children; in other words, on the grounds provided 
in the legislation of most modern Christian countries. As a 
result of New Testament teaching Christian mores on the sub- 
ject of divorce have become more restrictive than was law and 



CHRISTIANITY 141 

custom in the Roman empire, the extent to which restriction 
has gone depending on which interpretation of the New Testa- 
ment prevailed in any given place and time. Catholics, both 
Roman and Eastern, believe that Jesus and Paul taught that 
celibacy is a higher moral state than marriage, and to be recom- 
mended to those able to observe continence who have a voca- 
tion for a religious life. Protestants, on the other hand, believe 
that the New Testament regards marriage no less highly than 
celibacy, and that the contrary Catholic teaching has put a 
premium on an unnatural manner of life often attended by bad 
physical and moral effects upon the celibates, which has deteri- 
orated the stock of Europe by inducing spiritually gifted people 
to go into convents and leave others to become the sole ances- 
tors of future generations.^ So the New Testament has contri- 
buted to two different traditions regarding divorce and celibacy. 

There are passages in the New Testament that can be inter- 
preted as teaching nonresistance to evil. One should turn the 
other cheek, no matter how great the injury. It is wrong even 
to seek one's rights in a court of law (I Corinthians VI. 1-8). 
Christians during the first few centuries often thought military 
service wrong, and when conscribed preferred martyrdom to 
enlistment in the army."* The New Testament has sometimes 
been interpreted to commend poverty, and to look with dis- 
favor upon the possession of wealth. The church at Jerusalem 
temporarily at least tried the experiment of communism.^ Fast- 
ing and other forms of asceticism are occasionally mentioned 
in the New Testament.^ A life of nonresistance, poverty, 
communism, and ascetic practices was obviously impossible 
for every one; but it was long believed by nearly all Christians 
that for those with a vocation to it such is a higher life, more 
meritorious in the sight of God. This is still the belief of Roman 
and Eastern Catholics, constituting perhaps three-fourths of all 
Christians at the present time. 

While women are everywhere respected in the New Testa- 
ment, it has sometimes been thought that in the writings of 
Paul, at least, the Oriental view of the subjection of women to 



142 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

men is taughtJ It is certain that such views came to prevail 
in the world after the triumph of Christianity and the downfall 
of the Roman empire. Women lost most of the personal and 
property rights that Roman law had granted them They only 
regained these rights in the nineteenth century, in face of the 
opposition of many ecclesiastics, who quoted the New Testa- 
ment in favor of the subjection of women. However, it is open 
to question how far interpretations of the New Testament were 
originally responsible for the loss of feminine rights. The later 
Roman empire was flooded bj^ Oriental ideas and customs of 
every kind quite apart from Christianity, and the northern 
barbarians gave their women few rights. 

It has been charged that the New Testament is inferior in 
its moral outlook to the best Greek philosophers in that it never 
conceives moral problems in terms of citizenship in a free politi- 
cal state. Political rights and duties are never discussed. Law 
and justice are ignored. Meek submission to governmental 
authority is enjoined on the erroneous theory that rulers derive 
their power from divine right, ^ and not, as Roman law taught, 
from the consent of the people. So the church in later times 
taught a false political philosophy, and the struggle for libertj'^ 
in modern times was rendered more difficult. On the other 
hand it has been contended that the doctrine of the divine 
right of kings in its extreme form is a modern invention that 
hardly antedates the Stuarts; patristic views on the subject 
were much more regardful of the rights and welfare of the 
people.^ 

The New Testament has been accused of putting a low pre- 
mium on all intellectual undertakings. We find in it nothing 
like the Hebrew and Greek praise of wisdom and learning. 
The wisdom of this world is contemptuously dismissed a* 
"foolishness with God". (I Corinthians III. 19-21). The 
result was, so it has been claimed, that in later generations 
Christians became indifferent to liberal education, and thought 
it at best a serious handicap to the Christian life, if not a positive 
danger to one's salvation. It is true that the later ancient 



CHRISTIANITY 143 

fathers advised against pagan classical studies on the part 
of the young; but conditions at the time rather than misinter- 
pretations of the New Testament were probably responsible. 

Bitter indignation at heretics is occasionally expressed in the 
New Testament; that is, at Christians with other convictions 
than those of the writers themselves.^" This, it is charged, 
laid the foundation for later persecutions after Christians were 
in power. On the other hand it is replied that the "heretics" 
of the New Testament were former pagans, only recently 
converted, who were bent on introducing immoral and su- 
perstitious practices that would have been utterly contrary 
to the Christian life; they had to be withstood, and this was 
done firmly, and with great though loving and kindly moral 
indignation. There was no thought of persecuting them in any 
way, except to prevent their introducing pagan beliefs and 
practices into the churches. 

In regard to all these disputed points of interpretation of 
the New Testament, several observations can be made as a re- 
sult of the historical study of the Bible in our own time. Had 
earlier ages known the sacred books from the modern point of 
view, many misinterpretations which have had unfortunate 
effects on moral evolution would not have occurred. It is ev- 
ident, for one thing, that most of the New Testament writers, 
including Paul and the authors of the synoptic gospels, supposed 
that the end of the world and the second coming of Christ 
would shortly occur. ^^ To a certain extent, therefore, they 
interpreted the teaching of Jesus as an "interim ethic" ap- 
plicable to a small group of believers preparing for Hfe in another 
world. Under such conditions, it well might be best neither 
to marry nor carry on other new undertakings of an extensive 
character. Furthermore it must be remembered that in the first 
century, the Christian congregations were small and persecuted. 
They believed that they had a message of supreme importance 
to all mankind. Their chief duty and privilege was to inipart 
this "good news" to all to whom they could. Under such cir- 
cumstances we can well see that it might have seemed imprudent 



144 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

for a believer to carry a lawsuit into the courts. That would 
in any event take time, trouble and expense, and divert atten- 
tion from his chief duty as a Christian, and it might call 
the notice of the civil authorities to the presence of Christians 
in the community, and cause many to lose their hves. 

Devoid of political influence, questions of government and 
citizenship and justice did not enter into the living problems of 
the Christian communities of the first century, and so were not 
discussed. Most of them were provincials upon whom the rights 
and privileges of Roman citizenship had not yet been conferred. 
They knew nothing of the philosophy that underlay Roman law. 
Their ancestors had been forcibly conquered by the Romans, 
evidently by the will of God. It was their duty to obey the 
rulers as ordained by God ; except when their orders conflicted 
with the Christian conscience, in which case they must obey 
God rather than men. 

The first century Christians in most cases had little educa- 
tion. Even the learned Paul could not write good Kterary Greek. 
There was neither time nor opportunity to cultivate the intellect 
and acquire "wisdom". What little time these poor hard work- 
ing people could spare from the toil of earning a living, they felt 
it their duty to spend in religious activities, preparing them- 
selves and as many others as possible for the day of the Lord. 

So we see that the circumstances under which the New 
Testament books were written precluded the development of a 
complete system of morality to be handed down for the fiteral 
observance of all Christians of all future ages. Nowhere do the 
writers of the New Testament attempt to formulate a moral 
code Hke the Mosaic Law. Their attitude in this respect is in 
marked contrast to that of the Old Testament. Jesus had left 
no code or detailed ethical instructions; in fact, he left nothing 
in writing at all. His sayings seem only to have been treasured 
in oral tradition for some years, perhaps a generation, after 
his death. In the form that they have been gathered together 
in the synoptic gospels, and so come down to us, they consist 
chiefly of trenchant aphorisms and parables, profound in mean- 



CHRISTIANITY 145 

ing, but obviously not designed to be obeyed as literally as if 
they were statutes. The necessary applications and qualifica- 
tions to make them workable under specific circumstances, 
especially those of remote lands and centuries, are left by 
Jesus to the judgment of his followers. What is true of the 
synoptic gospels is even more true of the rest of the New Testa- 
ment. Paul was writing to local congregations with their special 
problems in mind ; he was not consciously laying down laws for 
all time. Only so far as his advice to a local church can be 
seen to apply to conditions of our own times does it have value 
or authority for the modern liberal Christian. The general 
epistles and the Johannine literature are colored by the condi- 
tions of the particular Christians for whose benefit these books 
were originally written: viz., times of unusually severe persecu- 
tion; times when heresies were especially rife; the problem of 
preserving the original Jewish tradition and yet accommodating 
it to Hellenistic philosophy; and other peculiar circumstances 
in the primitive churches. ^^ 

The lofty ideals of the New Testament upon which there is 
general agreement in interpretation have been of immense 
value to the moral tradition. The disputed interpretations 
have also greatly influenced European moral development, but 
not always favorably. The New Testament books, beginning 
with the second century, were for ages accepted in their present 
form as verbally inspired, infaUible, and authoritative, and 
attempts were made to carry out their teachings literally. Only 
in the course of the nineteenth century did modern critical 
scholarship disclose the conditions under which they were 
written. Misinterpretations were inevitable under the circum- 
stances. This was obviously not the fault of the sacred writers 
themselves, much less of Jesus. 

III. Catholicism 

All of the books now included within the New Testament 
were written well within a century after the death of Jesus (30 
A.D., or a few years later). During this period the church was 



146 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

an informal grouping of different congregations somewhat like 
the Jewish synagogues, with no central administration, author- 
itarian liturgy or creeds. The spirit of Jesus and his message was 
preserved through the personal influence of the apostles (in- 
cluding evangelists like Paul as well as the original twelve), and 
of those converted by them and working under their supervision. 
However, the churches were rapidly growing. Numerical 
estimates are speculative, but it is not unlikely that by the end 
of the first century a.d. the membership of the churches had 
increased from the five hundred in the early church mentioned 
by Paul (I Corinthians XV. 6) to half a million or more. The 
accessions were mostly Gentiles — converts from Hellenistic 
philosophy, the various mystery religions, and other pagan 
cults — persons who had had little or no previous contact with 
Judaism, and whose moral and religious outlook in consequence 
was quite different from that of the first followers of Jesus. 
During the following two centuries new converts kept stream- 
ing in, so that by the time Christianity became officially rec- 
ognized by the emperor Constantine in 312 a.d. the religion 
may have numbered thirty million adherents. ^^ Under these 
circumstances the leaders of the churches were confronted b}' a 
formidable problem. How could the spirit of Jesus be pre- 
served? How could Christianity be saved from submergence in 
Gentile beliefs and practices? 

The problem was met by various authoritarian measures. 
Local church officers (presbyters and deacons) kept assuming 
more initiative and authority over the members of the churches, 
becoming clearly differentiated as clergy, while the head of the 
leading church in a region came to be obeyed as bishop. A 
hierarchy thus came to govern the church, somewhat similar 
to the efficient administrative system of the Roman empire. 
The writings of the first century leaders of the churches were 
carefully studied, and in course of time our New Testament 
canon of twenty-seven books came to be generally regarded as 
authoritative and divinely inspired. Impressive liturgies de- 
veloped. A system of sacra?nents, ultimately fixed in the West 



CHRISTIANITY 147 

as seven in number, became enforced upon believers. These 
sacraments are miraculous ceremonies in which benefits through 
divine grace are conferred upon the behever; viz.: baptism, a 
mark of dedication to Christ attended by forgiveness of sins ; the 
eucharist, the bloodless sacrifice of bread and wine in which 
Christ is really present; confirmation, in which the bishop 
receives the believer into the fellowship of the Church; penance, 
in which a person honestly calls to mind his sins, has whole- 
hearted contrition for them, including the honest resolution to 
commit them no more, confesses them to a priest, accepts such 
punishment as he imposes, and receives absolution from him; 
matrimony, made a sacred relation by the blessing of the Church ; 
holy orders, the sacred ceremony by which clergy are ordained; 
and extreme unction, in which the priest anoints with oil the 
believer in danger of death, fortifying him with divine aid in 
the crisis. These developments, according to the Catholic 
contention, came about through the guidance of the Holy 
Ghost, and they were all either explicitly or implicitly instituted 
in the first place by Christ. By them the Catholic communicant 
is sustained and guided by Holy Church through supernatural 
means in all the important crises of his life. 

Deep reverence was felt for the Blessed Virgin Mary, the 
mother of Christ. Through the honors paid to her, and in less 
degree to other saints, men and women felt themselves able to 
come into closer personal relationship to God through Christ, to 
make more vivid what the Christian life should mean to them, 
to receive the intercession of Virgin and saints in their own 
behalf, and so to grow in grace themselves. People previously 
accustomed to Polytheism thus were enabled to worship one 
God, without God seeming to them to be an abstraction. 
Christianity remained a personal and human religion, and the 
ancient Catholic could feel himself under the protection of his 
guardian angel and patron saint. Holy men and women 
followed a higher vocation than was obligatory upon the layman. 
They forsook the world and sought a more perfect life of solitude 
in the dese~rt, spending their days in meditation and prayer, 



148 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

fasting and scourging themselves, and seeing celestial visions. 
Later, life in a religious community was found to be better, 
and orders of monks and nuns in convents observed vows of 
poverty, continence, and strict obedience to ecclesiastical su- 
periors. 

After Christianity became the official religion of the empire, 
new moral problems entered its horizon. Christian laymen 
had to defend the empire against barbarian invasion, police the 
cities, punish criminals, and protect society generally. It be- 
came right, and even a duty to do these things. The further 
interpretation of Roman law was continued by the Christians, 
and important juristic conceptions enriched Christian ethics. 
Riches were seen not necessarily to be an evil. They are a gift 
of God, of which the owner should regard himself as a responsible 
steward ; he must not squander them wastef ully, but give of his 
superfluity to the Church and to the poor. In general, the 
Christian layman had to undertake the duties of a citizen of 
this world; the clergy gave him counsel, and kept before his 
vision the higher ideals that should be realized as far as possible 
in this life, with the expectation of their full attainment in 
Heaven. 

A less pleasant feature of Christian mores must be men- 
tioned. We have already seen that the New Testament writers 
sternly rebuked those of the newly converted pagans who 
wished to introduce beliefs and practices that would have been 
morally debasing. When orthodox Christians gained control 
of the empire they were not content to rebuke pagans and 
heretics. By laws they made it uncomfortable for them, and 
in mobs they proceeded to massacre and exterminate them. 
Later, with full authority of the law, the Inquisition in the 
middle ages and counter Reformation disposed of heretics. We 
must remember that back of most of the technical controversies 
in which the Church was engaged in ancient and medieval 
times there were moral issues of importance. If ancient ortho- 
dox Christians had not been bitterly intolerant of all influences 
threatening to undermine their moral and spiritual outlook, 



CHRISTIANITY 149 

Christianity would first have become corrupted and then 
completely submerged in the welter of cults and superstitions 
with which it was in conflict. This helps to explain, but not to 
justify, the brutal intolerance toward all nonbelievers that 
became imbedded in Christian tradition. Salvation, it was 
thought, could only be had by those who accepted Christ in 
the precise manner taught in the orthodox creeds; all other 
persons must burn in hell. So it was really merciful to torture, 
burn, and kill numerous unbelievers in the hope that a greater 
number might be saved from everlasting fire. 

With the fall of the Roman empire, a further revision in 
the Christian moral outlook became necessary. The pagans 
of the Roman empire — at least in the earlier centuries — had 
become Christians from personal moral conviction and at 
great sacrifice, often at the cost of martyrdom. On the contrary, 
the northern barbarians were baptized wholesale at the behest 
of their rulers. Their savage minds, although impressed by the 
high moral and religious opportunities that the Church had to 
offer, were more dazed at the brilliance of the ceremonial, and 
frightened at the awfulness of hell, from which the Church 
alone could save them. Nor were they unconscious of political 
advantages to be gained by an alliance with the Roman Church. 
Catholic Christianity was something externally adopted by the 
northern barbarians from an alien civilization; it was not an 
outgrowth of their own experiences, nor accepted as a matter 
of deep inner conviction. 

In its immediate impact with the northern races Catholic 
Christianity did not undergo great modifications in eccle- 
siastical organization, doctrine, or ritual. The previous develop- 
ments were rather strengthened and extended. The sacraments 
were regarded with greater awe, and in them men found great 
comfort; to be deprived of them temporarily would speedily 
bring individual sinners and rebellious governments to sub- 
mission. The discipline of penance brought people to a realiza- 
tion of the sinfulness of wrongdoing and hence to genuine con- 
trition, as mere preaching could never have done. 



150 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

In some ways the Church became more practical in its moral- 
ity. Monastic orders ceased to be merely retreats for a contem- 
plative life; monks and nuns devoted much of their time to active 
service, — caring for the poor, conducting hospitals, orphanages, 
and schools, preaching to the people and hearing their confes- 
sions, copying manuscripts, and so preserving ancient learning. 
Convents were havens of refuge in troublesome times, when all 
the rest of the world was in warfare and confusion. There the 
wronged and helpless could find protection and some one to 
plead their causes. 

The barbarians already had high respect for women, before 
their conversion. The Church in time persuaded chiefs to 
abandon polygamous practices that occasionally occurred among 
them. After a long struggle she succeeded in establishing for 
all time in the mores of Christendom the principle that the free 
consent of a man and woman to their marriage is necessary 
and sufficient — that in this supreme relation of life parents, 
feudal lords, and kings may not dictate. The ancient crimes of 
abortion and infanticide were forbidden. Men were taught the 
single standard in sex morality. The purer conception of sex 
led to the idealization of women in romantic poetry and song. 
In some respects this last, no doubt, was extravagant. But 
it had an enduring effect on the mores of Christian lands. 
Romantic love on its more spiritual side has ever since held a 
prominence in literature and life unknown before. 

The barbarians were not disposed to limit warfare to the 
defensive. But the Church at least succeeded in putting war- 
fare within bounds that made it less horrible and destructive 
than it had been in the times depicted in the sagas. In parts 
of Europe the "Truce of God" restricted fighting to certain 
days of the week and seasons of the year. Popes often succeeded 
in mediating between conflicting princes, sometimes averting 
wars, and at other times bringing them to an end. The life 
of the warrior was idealized in the institution of Chivalr\'; his 
investiture as a knight assumed a religious character, and he 
vowed to defend women, orphans, clergy, and pilgrims, always 



CHRISTIANITY 151 

to fight for worthy causes and to attack injustice and oppression 
of every kind. 

While comments on ethical topics are frequent in ancient 
Christian literature, the center of interest is always theological, 
and no serious attempt to develop an ethical system is dis- 
coverable; although tendencies in that direction can be found 
occasionally, notably in the writings of St. Augustine of Hippo 
(1430).''* During the middle ages, elaborate ethical systems 
were developed, in subordination to Catholic theology. The 
main requisite of the moral life is acceptance of God and sub- 
mission to Him in the manner prescribed by the Church. The 
principles of ancient ethics were assimilated, and further ex- 
tended and applied. It will only be possible here to notice 
briefly the greatest and most influential of the medieval ethical 
systems, that of St. Thomas Aquinas (f 1274). ^^ 

Following Aristotle, St. Thomas maintains that the end of 
man is to be found in the realization of the function peculiar to 
him, — the reason, and in the achievement of this end happiness 
is attained. Every human act is motivated by personal ends; 
but in their pursuit consideration of others is necessarily in- 
volved, since man is a social being. (In modern terminology 
it might be said that St. Thomas' moral philosophy is in the 
first place egoistic, and that from egoism he deduces altruism.) 
In human experience we find some ends subordinated to others ; 
can a supreme end or highest good be found to which all others 
are subordinated, and in which all others are included? (In 
answering this, St. Thomas supplements the deficiencies of 
Aristotle.) Yes, objectively this supreme end is God; subjec- 
tively it is the highest happiness which attends intellectual 
contemplation of God, — knowing Him and loving Him. This 
cannot be completely attained in this life, but will be the 
reward of the redeemed in Heaven. ^^ In this life all human 
goods, cultural, emotional, physical, are given recognition, — 
since all are included within the supreme good, when judged 
rightly. Thus Thomistic moral philosophy is neither ascetic, 
nor, in the main, other worldly. The distinction between moral 



152 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

good and evil is objective, and follows from the very nature of 
things. Ultimate moral principles rest on Eternal Law, they 
are known to God intellectually; and even His will could not 
change them. ^^ Eternal Law with reference to a specific creature 
becomes Natural Law; and for man, a rational creature, natural 
laws are rational. In accordance with natural law men are 
obliged "to preserve their own life and to ward off its obsta- 
cles ... to know the truth about God and to live in Society". ^^ 

By means of a special natural faculty (synderesis) we know 
the ultimate moral principles, which are universal and immu- 
table. The act by which our reason applies these principles to 
particular cases is an act of conscience. That you must be honest 
in business and give to each his due is a universal principle; 
that you must return to a particular person a sum of money 
paid in excess of the price agreed upon is an act of conscience. 
The apphcation of universal principles to the peculiar circum- 
stances of men living in space and time can be effected by means 
of precepts that hold in the majority of cases, but not in all. 
For instance, it is a good precept that we ought to restore goods 
held in trust; yet we should not do so if claimed for the purpose 
of fighting against one's country. The fact that precepts con- 
cerned with the affairs of daily hfe are often not of universal 
application puts great responsibility on the individual con- 
science. A person must always act in accordance with the 
promptings of his conscience, which is his best guide, although 
it may err. It is his duty to enlighten his conscience by in- 
structing himself concerning his moral obligations, studying 
doubtful points, and weighing probabilities; since error, doubt, 
and hesitation are blameworthy if they are voluntary. How- 
ever, moral responsibility is lessened by unavoidable prejudices 
due to heredity, education, emotions, and passions. ^^ 

The deficiencies of human reason are largely corrected by 
Divine Law, i.e., the revelations made by God to men, especially 
in the laws of the Old and New Testaments. And the individual 
believer, of course, always has his spiritual adviser to assist 
him in solving the problems of conscience. The moral virtues 



CHRISTIANITY 153 

are summarized in accordance with the Platonic classification: 
prudence, fortitude, temperance, and justice; but they are con- 
ceived in Aristotelian fashion as rational habits, and to them the 
principle of the golden mean applies. It is to be observed that 
while the system of St. Thomas is rationalistic and formal in its 
affirmation of ultimate moral principles that are eternal and 
immutable, it is largely empirical in the concrete application of 
these principles to human conduct. How to live and act in the 
affairs of daily life is for St. Thomas almost as much a matter 
of applying practical experience and common sense as it is for 
Aristotle. His system is to be classed with that of Aristotle, 
rather than with those of the Stoics and Kant which profess to 
lay down absolute principles capable of infallibly deciding every 
question of conduct. 

Besides eternal, natural, and divine law, St. Thomas discusses 
Human Law. Human laws are deductions or applications of 
natural law made by rulers for the common good. Human 
enactments not in accordance with natural law are unjust; they 
are perversions of law. In a manner similar to Aristotle, dis- 
tinction is made between forms of government (monarchical, 
aristocratic, and democratic) that aim at the good of all, and 
the unjust forms that aim at the good of rulers alone. St. 
Thomas is inclined on the whole to favor monarchy as most 
likely to be free from dissension and to promote peace. The 
danger in both monarchy and democracy is degeneration into 
tyranny, and this must be guarded against. Living in a later 
age than Aristotle, St. Thomas sees superior advantages in a 
medieval kingdom, in bringing larger areas and populations 
together, and affording greater strength and security, as com- 
pared with the smaller city-state, at least in its medieval forms. ^^ 

In recent times Roman Catholic moral philosophers have 
adhered in general to the basic features of Thomistic ethics, 
with detailed additions, modifications, and applications in the 
manner of the Jesuit and other schools. They have accepted 
such features of modern non-Catholic systems as seemed mer- 
itorious to them, and not in conflict with orthodox Catholic 



154 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

ethics. While the conversion of heretics is still thought desir- 
able, the futility of employing persecution for the purpose is 
generally recognized. The more kindly side of the teaching 
of the Church has been brought into emphasis; there is hope, 
in the next world as in this, for those invincibly ignorant of 
the true faith, if they act according to the best light their con- 
sciences afford them. Since in Cathohc systems of ethics all 
conduct should be subordinated to the supreme end of knowl- 
edge and love of God, and only by this means can ethical prin- 
ciples be brought into coherence and unity, it follows that all 
really adequate moral teaching must be based on Catholic 
theology. So Catholic writers repudiate all attempts in modern 
times to make ethics a discipline independent of theology, 
whether based on reason, perfection, duty, self-realization, 
pleasure, happiness, utility, the social contract, evolution, or 
what not. This explains the Catholic insistence that schools 
ought to be under ecclesiastical control ; unless based on Catholic 
religious teaching moral training cannot adequately be given 
to the young. Contemporary Catholic writers are keenly alive 
to the political and economic problems that have arisen since 
the industrial revolution, and thej' offer constructive programs 
for the betterment of social conditions.'-'^ 

Catholic morality has rendered an incalculable service to 
the modern world by preserving the best elements of Christian 
teaching from ancient pagan and medieval barbarian corrup- 
tion. The outstanding merit of Catholic moral teaching is 
on the disciplinary side. Penance and confession insure that 
the individual will frankly face his own sins and shortcomings 
and receive the counsel and sympathy of an experienced spiritual 
adviser; the ignorant are thus afforded guidance, and all are 
more likely to experience true contrition, for without true con- 
trition absolution does not avail. Catholicism teaches respect 
for authority, and for the experience of the past. The Catholic 
is disposed to yield to the expert in all fields that do not conflict 
with dogmatic theology. His influence in the modern world is a 
helpful corrective of the common tendency of democracies to 



CHRISTIANITY 155 

become "cults of incoinijetcnce" through indifference to real 
talent and training. He uses his influence to safeguard in- 
dividuals and society from moral shipwreck as a result of hasty 
and thoughtless radical doctrines advanced by well-meaning 
but inexperienced reformers. At the same time no one is more 
interested than he in the support of most movements for really 
constructive social reform at the present time. Our own country 
is immeasurably richer and saner in its moral outlook because 
of his presence among us. 

Catholicism in its moral influence has made for individual- 
ization in its doctrine that Church, state, and all other institu- 
tions exist to serve individuals as such, and in its close atten- 
tion to individual rights, needs, and capacities. It has been a 
strongly socializing influence in its emphasis on the need by the 
individual of institutions; he gains salvation through the 
Church; he becomes a man through his social relations in the 
family, state, etc.; his ultimate end is to share an immortal Hfe 
in the celestial society of the redeemed. It has been rationaliz- 
ing in its development of the Thomistic and other great ethical 
systems which coordinate ethics with theology. 

What has been said above regarding Cathohc ethics has had 
Roman Catholicism chiefly in mind. Much but not all of it 
would hold for the Catholic party in the Church of England and 
in the American Protestant Episcopal Church. Anglo-Catholics 
have been insistent on submission to authority, and the de- 
pendence of the individual upon the sacramental system of the 
Church. They manifest more latitude than Roman Catholics 
in the expression of individual differences of opinion. They 
deserve high praise for their efforts to make religion more per^ 
sonal, spiritual, and beautiful, and to make it an agency for 
personal and social reformation, and for their active missionary 
and charitable work among the poor.-'- 

IV. Protestantism 

The Protestant Reformation was at bottom a moral move- 
ment, notwithstanding many nonmoral causes that were con- 



156 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

tributory, — national, racial, political, economic, cultural, and 
others. The deeply moral and religious spirit of St. Thomas 
Aquinas and his contemporaries of the thirteenth century did 
not dominate the life of the Church at the beginning of the six- 
teenth century. The circumstances under which the northern 
barbarians had been converted necessitated some ecclesiastical 
guidance of princes as well as laymen throughout the dark 
ages, and brought organized Christianity into politics. In- 
evitable as this was, by the close of the middle ages the effect 
had proved unwholesome.-^ Many ecclesiastics had become 
more interested in exercising political power than in the promo- 
tion of the spiritual life. The state necessarily treats wrong- 
doing externally; it inflicts punishments, and commutes them 
with fines when offenses are not too serious; it overlooks wrongs 
that are either minor, or, though grave, are intangible and can 
only be corrected by public opinion; it can rarely appeal to the 
principles of ethical inwardness which religion should inculcate. 
The later medieval church, immersed in politics, imitated the 
state in its methods of administering the sacrament of penance. 
Punishments and indulgences were mechanically allotted ; pen- 
itents were hable to feel little inward contrition. Many of 
the higher clergy became fond of luxury, and passed their 
lives in magnificent churches and palaces maintained with 
money extorted under false representations by lower eccle- 
siastics from the poorer and more ignorant of the IsLity, These 
last were induced to pay sums that thej^ could not afford for 
indulgences to save the souls of their deceased relatives from 
the tortures of purgatory, and enable themselves with divine 
impunity to engage in whatever sins they wished.-'* The clergy 
of all ranks, including even a few popes, often took their vows 
lightly, and led scandalously immoral lives. Princes and people 
in the northern countries patriotically resented the ecclesiastical 
bullying to which they frequently had to submit in the conduct 
of their affairs, as well as the economic impoverishment from 
which they suffered as a result of the heavy contributions 
exacted from them by Rome. 



CHRISTIANITY 157 

Moreover Catholicism had never been an indigenous growth 
among the peoples of northern Europe. It had been accepted 
by them in their infancy, but had never really expressed their 
own genius and satisfied their moral and temperamental needs. 
By the sixteenth century these peoples had in a measure grown 
up intellectually, and were ready for churches that would better 
satisfy their characteristic wants and be under their own control. 
The northern peoples are comparatively self-reliant, individual- 
istic, and self-assertive. They do not readily submit to author- 
ity, especially if it is externally imposed upon them, and not 
of their own making. They have a keen sense of justice, and 
talent for self-government both in their private lives and in 
their institutions. In literature and art their tastes and talents 
are romantic and unconventional rather than classical and 
restrained. Such peoples were bound to chafe at control of 
their churches by a clergy not of their own choosing; as in- 
dividuals they were certain to find more inward peace from 
prayer and confession of their sins to God in private than 
through the mediation of a sacramental system. The printing 
press had been invented. In accordance with their own dis- 
positions, they preferred public worship of an intellectual rather 
than aesthetic nature. ^^ 

While, therefore, the immediate causes of the Protestant 
Reformation were existing abuses in the medieval Catholic 
system, back of these as ultimate causes were profound differ- 
ences in mental characteristics as well as consequent moral 
and spiritual needs. The Protestant reformers all stoutly 
maintained the rights of "Christian liberty", as they conceived 
them. Inner religious peace they found in their own experience 
as a result of simple faith in God and personal repentance 
("justification by faith"). Confession to a priest, performance 
of works of penance imposed by him, reception of physically 
miraculous sacraments, and the interposition of church and 
saints in their behalf they found superfluous, and believed to 
be a detriment rather than a help in the spiritual life. Thus 
when the old abuses in the Catholic Church were corrected as a 



158 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

result of the reforms initiated by the Council of Trent (1545- 
1563), and discipline was again made pure, Protestants in 
populations where northern stocks prevailed felt little incHna- 
tion to return to the old Church. 

To convince the public of the rightfulness of the changes 
that they demanded, the Protestant reformers called upon the 
public to read the New Testament. In doing this, the Prot- 
estant argument was in a .sense authoritarian, — it was an appeal 
to the authority of Scripture; but it implied that readers would 
exercise their private judgment in accepting the Protestant 
interpretation of the New Testament, and rejecting the Catholic 
interpretation that had been generally accepted for ages, and 
had given rise to existing doctrines, liturgy, and church govern- 
ment. At first, the Protestants recognized no authority except 
the Bible, which all were free to interpret for themselves. But 
new sects kept multiplying, some of which were quite fantastic 
in their interpretation of scripture, thinking that they found 
sanctions for free love, communism, and the overthrow of exist- 
ing social and political institutions generally. It proved im- 
possible to leave scripture a matter of private interpretation 
devoid of all control. As in the ancient church, authoritarian 
measures had to be introduced. The more conservative re- 
formers, like Luther and Calvin, found it necessary to develop 
ecclesiastical organizations, formulate creeds, and regulate 
the private conduct of church members rigorously, even in 
smaller matters like dress and amusements. They were also 
forced to go into politics. -'' 

As the churches were unable to convince everybody peace- 
ably they resorted to force. In Catholic countries heretics were 
made to recant on pain of death or banishment. In Protestant 
countries the sects struggled with one another for political con- 
trol, and whichever gained it persecuted dissenters in various 
ways, often making it so unpleasant for them that many mi- 
grated from the country. Catholic and Protestant nations 
fought one another with unparalleled ruthlessness and dis- 
regard for all humane observances, until in the course of the 



CHRISTIANITY 159 

Thirty Years' War (ending in 1648) considerable portions of 
Europe were totally devastated, and the major portion of the 
population exterminated. 

Horrified at the excesses of religious warfare, and convinced 
of the impossibihty of bringing every one to agreement in 
matters of religion, a more tolerant spirit prevailed after the 
middle of the seventeenth century. Private citizens everywhere 
slowly gained the right to practice their own religions, provided 
they did not violate ordinary standards of moral decency, and 
did not incite to civil rebellion. The assumption was ultimately 
abandoned that all morality rests logically on a system of reli- 
gious doctrine, which it is necessary to force all the inhabitants 
of a country to accept on pain of severe persecution. 

Other influences led to religious toleration. From the fifteenth 
century onward, the revival of classical studies by laymen had 
informed the cultured that high moral standards had been 
maintained by ancient Greeks and Romans on philosophical 
grounds largely independent of religion, and wholly uninfluenced 
by distinctively Christian dogmas. In some respects pagan 
morality was even thought by many to be broader and more 
humane than the Christian morality of their own times. 

The rapid growth of astronomy and physics refuted many 
ecclesiastical behefs and rendered others doubtful: the earth is 
round, and it moves about the sun, no matter what scriptures 
and church fathers say; the universe has no specific center and 
circumference; if God is anywhere He must be everywhere. His 
throne cannot be spatially located at a fixed point in the heavens 
perpendicular to the temple at Jerusalem. Uniform physical 
laws prevail everywhere; if miracles happen at all they are very 
rare, else they could be scientifically observed and reported. 
Witchcraft, demoniac possession, black magic, the evil eye, 
alchemy, astrology, and other superstitions and pseudo sciences 
were discredited by the intelligent, and the theological writers 
and systems that had taught them were seen not to be infal- 
lible, at least in matters of science.-' 

The development of commerce, especially in great trading 



160 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

countries like Holland and England, favored religious tolerance 
at home and abroad. It does not pay to quarrel with one's cus- 
tomers about religion. Practical experience showed that men of 
diverse religious beliefs as well as downright "infidels " (atheists, 
skeptics, deists) often are men of high integrity in business and 
personal obligations, while the most rigorous reHgious orthodoxy 
is not an absolute guarantee of moral rectitude. 

All these tendencies became strengthened in the course of 
the cultural and philosophical movement known as the modern 
Enlightenment (1690-1781), of which further mention will be 
made in the following chapter. As a result, complete religious 
toleration, except for ephemeral controversies, has long since 
been won in all Christian countries. Catholic as well as Protes- 
tant. If conservatives still believe that the best moral outlook 
can only be gained by acceptance of their particular creeds, they 
have ceased to seek by physical force to bring dissenters into 
agreement with them, and they admit that for the affairs of 
ordinary life sufficiently common moral standards are recognized 
without legal requirements of reHgious uniformity. 

The chief contributions of Protestantism to the moral tradi- 
tion have tended toward individualization and rationalization. 
It has insisted on individual initiative and self-rehance in moral 
conduct. A person cannot commit the guidance of his con- 
science to another. He is personally responsible to God alone, 
speaking in religious terms. However, he must be open-minded, 
look for hght from all sources on doubtful points, and seek the 
counsel of others. He cannot rightly do anything just because 
he pleases to do so. He is personally accountable to God for 
all his thoughts, words, and deeds. Protestantism has done 
much to promote individual conscientiousness and thoughtful- 
ness, and to make the moral life a matter of deep personal 
experience. Its influence on political institutions in consequence 
of its individualism has been in favor of democracy as a form of 
government. Popular government was first won in Protestant 
countries. Until comparatively recently, Protestants were 
nearly always emphatic individualists on economic questions. 



CHRISTIANITY 161 

Since the industrial revolution the problems of a just distribu- 
tion have led many of them to favor measures of social ameliora- 
tion; so Protestantism in this respect is an influence for socializa- 
tion, though not usually for socialism. 

Protestants were slower than Roman Catholics to become 
interested in foreign missions; but during the past century, es- 
pecially in America, they have been very active in such work. 
This has had the result of making them somewhat acquainted 
with the needs of backward races, and has led them to use 
their influence in favor of greater consideration of such peoples 
by the foreign and colonial administrations of their governments. 
Contact through missions with non-Christian peoples of high cul- 
ture has also broadened the outlook of Protestant churches in re- 
cent years, and taught tolerance and respect for other religions. ^^ 

There have been no really brilliant ethical systems based on 
Protestant theology. As a rule the early reformers merely dis- 
cussed moral problems in connection with exposition of theo- 
logical doctrines. Rarely has a Protestant theologian of more 
recent times attempted to formulate an ethical system based 
primarily on religious conceptions, that would be comprehensive 
enough to cover the whole field of ethics. On the contrary, 
the conviction has spread that since all true ethics is Christian 
ethics, ethical problems can be studied independently.^^ Those 
ethical conclusions which bear the tests of sound reasoning and 
careful observation must be accepted. Such conclusions will 
be sure to agree with true religion. If they do not agree with any 
theological beliefs, this is an indication that the latter are 
erroneous and must be revised. Sound theology cannot be in 
contradiction with the moral consciousness of our age. (Modern 
Jews have come to similar conclusions regarding the relationship 
between ethics and their religion.) 

So, without further reference to religion in subsequent chap- 
ters until we come to Part V, the reader will understand that 
the author believes that the conclusions advanced by hirh are 
in the spirit of true religion, and in accordance with the best 
Christian and Jewish ethics. 



1G2 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

In conclusion, it may be said that the influence of Christianity 
in modern moral evolution has been beneficial in intensifying 
ethical inwardness, and in making morality more personal by 
associating it with love and loyalty to a personal God. The 
individual through prayer and other religious activities gains a 
firmer grip upon himself, and is more faithful to calls of duty. 
Association with his fellows in a church broadens his moral out- 
look. The churches promote social reforms, and also help to 
conserve the best in the present moral tradition. They, and 
the homes and other institutions which they influence, are 
the chief agencies by which moral teaching is given to the young. 
Without them it is hard to see how the moral tradition could 
effectively be passed from one generation to another. Any indi- 
vidual will be a better and happier person himself, and his life 
will be of more service to others, if he identifies himself with 
the church or synagogue of his choice, and in the endeavor to be 
true to his higher moral ideals engages in public and private 
worship of God. 

REFERENCES 
General : 

* F. Paulsen, System of Ethics, Book I, chaps. II-VI. 

* L. T. Hobhouse, Morals in Emhition, Part II, chap. IV. 

* Dewey and Tufts, Ethics, pp. 108, f., 142-169, 195-19S. 

* G. B. Smith, et al., A Guide to the Study of the Christian Religion, 

esp. chaps. IX and XL 

* W. K. Wright, A Stiidenfs Philosophy of Religion, chaps. XI- 

XIII. 
T. C. Hall, A History of Ethics within Organized Christianity. 
Williston Walker, A History of the Christian Church. 
H. Sidgwick, History of Ethics, chap. III. 

The New Testament: 

* Matthew V-VII; Luke VI, XI, XV; Romans XII-XIV; James 

I-V; I Peter II-IV; John XIV-XVII. 

* W. L. Davidson, Christian Ethics. 

* E. F. Scott, The Ethical Teachings of Jesus. 



CHRISTIANITY 163 

C. F. Kent, The Social Teachings of the Prophets and Jesus. 
Shailer Mathews, The Social Teachings of Jesus. 

* E. J. Goodspeed, The Story of the New Testament. 

B. W. Bacon, The Making of the New Testament. 

A. J. Carlyle, History of Medieval Political Theory in the West 

vol. I, chap. VIII. 
H. Rashdall, Conscience and Christ. 

C. A. Briggs, The Ethical Teachings of Jesus. 
H. C. King, The Ethics of Jesus. 

A. Bayet, Les morales de I'evangile. 

E. F. Scott and C. H. Dodd in The Evolution of Ethics, edited by 
E. Hershey Sneath. 

Catholicism: 

* St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica (Trans, by English 

Dominican Fathers), Part I of Part II (Prima Secundse), 

especially questions 90-100. 
Jos. Rickaby, Aquinas Ethicus. 
H. C. O'Neill, New Things and Old in St. Thomas Aquinas. 

* Maurice De Wulf, Medieval Philosophy Illustrated from the Sys- 

tem of Thomas Aquinas, chaps. I-XV. 

* J. H. Ryan, Introduction to Philosophy, pp. 273-277, 295-303. 
Joseph Rickaby, Moral Philosophy. 

Cardinal Mercier, et al.. Manual of Modern Scholastic Philoso- 
phy, vol. II, pp. 209-338. 

W. E. H. Lecky, History of European Morals. 

J. M. Robertson, A Short History of Morals, Part IV, chap. I. 

Article on "Ethics" in the Catholic Cyclopaedia. 

J. A. Ryan and Jos. Husslein, The Church and Labor. 

J. A. Ryan, Distributive Justice. 

Jos. Husslein, Evolution and Social Progress. 

Bishop Gore, et al. (Anglo-Catholic Socialists), The Return of 
Christendom. 

Protestantism: 

* Luther's Primary Works, trans, by Wace and Buckheim, esp. 

"Concerning Christian Liberty" and "To the Christian 
Nobility, etc." 



164 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, especially Book 
III, chaps. 6-11, 15, 19. 

(General texts, mostly theological:) 

T. von Haring (trans, by Hill), Ethics of the Christian Life. 

Newman Smyth, Christian Ethics. 

J. C. Murray, Handbook of Christian Ethics. 

A. B. D. Alexander, Christianity and Ethics. 

(General discussions, more philosophical:) 

James Martineau, Types of Ethical Theory. 

* George Harris, Moral Evolution. 

H. Rashdall, Theory of Good and Evil. 

(Contemporary Social Ethics:) 

* G. B. Smith, The Principles of Christian Living. 

* F. G. Peabody, Jesus Christ and the Social Question. 

* Walter Rauschenbusch, Christianity and the Social Crisis. Chris- 

tianizing the Social Order. 

* C. A. EUwood, Reconstruction of Religion. Christianity and. 

Social Science. 

B. H. Streeter, et al., Property, its Rights and Duties. 



CHAPTER VII 
MODERN MORAL DEVELOPMENT 

I. Introductory 

The rise of nations struggling for territorial independence, 
and their advance from authoritarian feudal systems to free 
Citizenship, have been two outstanding features in modern 
political history. This evolution has been accompanied by a 
corresponding development of the moral tradition, and has been 
interpreted in many ethical systems.^ 

Modern social development in almost every direction began 
as a process in which groups contended for social control in 
order to assure their own rights. Such a group, whether a 
nation, a class, a religious sect, or what not, originally had little 
regard for the rights of other groups. If in power, it would 
endeavor to force every one into conformity and submission. 
This phase of the process was wholly one of individualization. 
But in due course claimants of rights began to seek for under- 
lying principles by which to justify their claims, — a process of 
rationalization. Such investigations sometimes led to the study 
of ancient doctrines of natural rights in Roman law and Stoic 
philosophy. It proved impossible on rational grounds to claim 
rights for one's self or one's group without conceding like rights 
to others. Thus came to be recognized the general principles of 
Citizenship — equal rights for all, and maintenance of the com- 
mon good. This is socialization. Modern moral evolution, 
then, has been mainly a process in which ever increasing in- 
dividualization has led to rationalization, and this, in turn, to 
socialization. Each tendency has interacted upon the others, 
strengthening them and accelerating them. Abstract as this 
description is, and impossible as it is here to follow the lines 
of this evolution in detail, it includes in a broad characteriza- 

165 



166 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

tion the rise of national self-consciousness and the vStruggles for 
independence and self-determination, religious freedom, civil 
and political rights, and industrial democracy. 

Different as our spirit has since become, the sources of our 
moral traditions can be found in the middle ages. Our debt 
is greatest to the medieval Church, for the transmission of an- 
cient Christian and pagan moral teachings, together with further 
development and application of them. The Church taught the 
Christian doctrine of the inestimable worth of every human 
being in the ej^es of God. This implied spiritual equality. She 
accordingly carried on educational and benevolent activities. 
She sought to promote internal and international peace, and to 
mitigate the inhumanities of war and strife. She taught the 
moral value of labor, the duty of every one to make a con- 
scientious use of the talents and opportunities which God has 
given him. In the modern world these teachings have become 
secularized; the institutions that do most to carry them out 
are the state and nonreligious voluntary associations — schools, 
universities, hospitals, social settlements, charitable organiza- 
tions of divers kinds, and societies for the promotion of social 
reforms. The Church has taught many lessons to the world so 
thoroughly, that they are now acted upon in ways independent 
of her control and supervision. 

Besides the contributions of the Church, we owe to the 
medieval social sj^stem four group or class ideals, corresponding 
to the four principal types of laymen. To the medieval knight, 
we owe the ideals of the nobleman or gentleman, — refinement, 
courtesy, chivalry, courage, honor, and respect for culture. The 
medieval burgher or merchant class has taught us thrift, respect 
for property rights, good faith in keeping contracts and paying 
debts, honesty and fair play in business transactions of all kinds. 
The medieval guilds handed down traditions regarding the rights 
of workingmen, and their duties to one another, their employers, 
and the public, — such as solidaritj' for mutual protection and 
betterment, industry, and honest workmanship. The agricul- 
tural classes of the middle ages were in a wretched condition — 



MODERN MORAL DEVELOPMENT 167 

largely villeins and serfs — yet they are the ancestors (func- 
tionally speaking) of modern peasants and farmers, a class 
noteworthy for self-reliance, honesty, frugality, assertion of 
rights, industry, and desire for personal ownership of the land 
they cultivate. With the growth of democracy, the ideals of 
each class are becoming the ideals of all. Every man now wishes 
to be thought a gentleman, with manners and intelligence. He 
desires to be honest and responsible in business transactions. 
He feels it dishonorable not to be a worker, engaged in useful 
activity of some kind. He admires those who are successful 
in honest undertakings and have become owners of property. 
He feels it disgraceful not to stand up for his rights in a reason- 
able way, or to be afraid on suitable occasions to express his 
opinions freely. 

Following the usage of histories of modern philosophy we 
may distinguish the following epochs in modern moral develop- 
ment and ethical interpretation: the Renaissance, from 1453, 
the year of the fall of Constantinople, to 1690, the year of the 
publication of Locke's Essay on Human Understanding; the 
Enlightenment, from 1690 to 1781, when Kant's Critique of 
Pure Reason appeared; and the subsequent period, which for 
want of a better name, may simply be called the Nineteenth 
and Twentieth Centuries. For those who prefer political dates, 
it will be sufficiently accurate to remember that the middle 
period, the Enlightenment, followed and was largely a conse- 
quence of the English Revolution of 1688, and that it terminated 
early in the decade preceding the French Revolution of 1789, 
of which it was one important cause. 

II. The Renaissance 

Although it is customary to date the Renaissance from the 
fall of Constantinople in 1453, when the exiled scholars brought 
ancient manuscripts in large quantities to the West, the new 
spirit had begun to manifest itself a century earlier in such men 
as Petrarch (t 1374) who has been called "the first modern 
man". He studied ancient classical literature and art from a 



168 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

desire for personal pleasure and a wider outlook upon life. His 
classical reading taught him to appreciate natural scenery, and 
it is recorded that he (absurdly, if not wickedly, from a medieval 
standpoint) climbed a mountain in order to enjoy the view. 
His full and free inward experiences found expression in poetry 
in his mother tongue. He protested against blind traditionalism 
in the arts and sciences, and called for experimental methods in 
medicine and law. In such activities Petrarch was introducing 
Humanism, the enrichment of personality on all sides, and its 
free expression in art and life, results to be achieved by the 
study of the ancient classics from the standpoint of the original 
writers themselves. This attitude is in sharp contrast to the 
middle ages: when the classics were studied for practical pur- 
poses, such as the light they threw on theology, law, medicine, 
and astrology; when few but clergymen had learning, and study 
for the mere sake of culture and enjoyment would have been 
deemed sinful ; and when few ventured to challenge the accuracy 
of the standard authorities on any subject or to conduct inde- 
pendent observations. 

In succeeding centuries Humanism had a brilliant growth in 
Italy, and spread to other countries. For the first time since 
Christianity had become dominant in Europe, the attractive 
features of classical paganism and the cultural possibilities of 
a secular education for laymen became appreciated. This 
attitude was not necessarily hostile to religion. The artists, 
literary men, scientists, and philosophers of the Renaissance 
were usually professing Christians, either Catholic or Protestant. 
They simply insisted that art, literature, science, and philosophy 
should be employed by laymen to express secular interests and 
satisfy secular needs. Thus began the movement by which 
nonreligious activities have multiplied, while many, like educa- 
tion and philanthropy, that once were carried on by the Church, 
have passed in large measure to secular control. 

The men of the Renaissance observed that a few mechanical 
inventions, that had luckily been discovered without much 
technical knowledge, were changing the whole life of Europe. 



MODERN MORAL DEVELOPMENT 169 

The mariner's compass had made possible the discovery of 
America and the new route to India, and the subsequent voy- 
ages of exploration, conquest, and settlement. Gunpowder had 
revolutionized warfare, and placed the citizen of the town 
more nearly upon terms of equality with the armored knight 
living in a castle. The printing press had made the Bible 
widely accessible, and so brought the controversy over its inter- 
pretation to general attention and forced the Reformation. 
The telescope had multiplied celestial observations hard to 
explain in terms of the old astronomy, and led to the discovery 
and acceptance of the Copernican system. Thus a few mechan- 
ical inventions had changed the whole outlook on life. The 
social system, the prevailing religion, the dimensions of the 
earth and of the heavens had all become transformed. What, 
then, might it not be possible to accomplish if scientific re- 
search could be carried on extensively and methodically? 

If the men of the Renaissance could by some miracle return 
to earth to-day, they would not be surprised at the great ad- 
vances in natural science and its applications. Francis Bacon 
(t 1626), for instance, predicted the improvement of telescopes 
and microscopes, the invention of telephones and microphones, 
flying machines, submarine vessels, the transmutation of metals, 
and great progress in chemistry and embryology. He laid the 
foundations of inductive logic and empirical scientific methods. 
Rene Descartes (f 1650) showed the importance of mathemat- 
ical and deductive methods in scientific investigation. Besides 
becoming the father of modern metaphysics, he made important 
contributions to mathematics and physiology, including analytic 
geometry and the mechanistic conception of life. The most 
brilliant scientific progress, however, was made in astronomy 
and physics, in which a succession of great minds — Copernicus, 
Galileo, Kepler, Newton, and others — combined deductive 
development of hypotheses with experimental observations. 
They established that the physical world is everywhere subject 
to uniform processes, open to empirical observation and mathe- 
matical statement. The great achievements of the natural 



170 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

scientists inspired a spirit of emulation in moral philosophers. 
Could the laws by which human conduct does and those by 
which it ought to proceed be discovered by careful reasoning 
and observation in a manner imitative of science? 

The problems that provoked ethical reflection were partly 
social and partly individual. Constant conflicts between the 
petty states into which Italy was divided led Niccolo Mac- 
chiavelli (f 1527) to study and describe objectively the methods 
by which princes actually carried on government, war, and 
intrigue. He was thus the first empirical political scientist. 
His chief errors, which met with condemnation immediately, 
resulted from his failure to take account of the effectiveness of 
constructive moral ideals in public affairs, leading him to 
suppose that the unification and freedom of Italy, which he 
ardently desired, could only come by unscrupulous means. 
Lack of principle and inhuman cruelty manifested by all sides 
in the Thirty Years' War — in an age when the rule of princes was 
absolute — led Hugo de Groot (j 1645, generally known by his 
Latin name of Grotius) to derive from Roman law and its 
underlying philosophy ultimate moral principles that should 
govern princes and nations in their relations with one another. 
The Natural Law that is the basis of these principles does not 
owe its validity to the decrees of political rulers, nor to religious 
dogmas on which Catholics, Protestants, Jews, atheists, and 
Mohammedans differ. It is as eternal and absolute as God Him- 
self; even He cannot change it any more than the laws of 
mathematics. Much less can any earthly prince alter it; all 
ought to obey it. The appeal which Grotius made to human 
reason and conscience aroused thinking men all over Europe, 
and initiated subsequent movements in the development of 
international law. 

Thomas Hobbes (f 1679), shocked by the violence and intol- 
erance of the internal conflicts in England in the age of the 
Puritan Rebellion, concluded that all men are naturally like 
selfish and greedy wolves in their dispositions toward one an- 
other (homo homini lupus). In the natural state of "war", 



MODERN MORAL DEVELOPMlENT 171 

each has a right to all that he can take and hold — this is de- 
duced from the natural law of self-preservation. The same law, 
however, leads men to realize that peace and security in their 
own lives and possessions are worth a sacrifice. Each, there- 
fore, has agreed to keep his hands off others, with the under- 
standing that they similarly leave him alone. To enforce the 
consequent relation of "peace", as well as to develop and inter- 
pret the law, men have agreed to obey unqualifiedly a common 
sovereign. In Hobbes' version of this social contract, the agree- 
ment is between the different members of society with one an- 
other; the sovereign is not a party to it. The sovereign can do 
as he chooses and cannot be held responsible ; the king can do no 
wrong. To rebel against him would bring society back into its 
original condition of anarchy. All ought to have a right to 
believe privately whatever religion they choose; but only the 
church of which the King is head may hold public services; 
this restriction is necessary to prevent conflicts. It is doubtful 
whether Hobbes really supposed that the "social contract" 
was an actual historic event. The question whether the doctrine 
is valid does not depend on its historicity, but on whether 
human political and social relations can most effectively be 
stated and understood by means of this fiction. Are the rela- 
tions between members of society analogous to those between 
persons who have entered into a mutual contract for specified 
purposes? 

Benedict Spinoza (f 1677), though a lonely excommunicated 
Jew, regarded unfavorably by the adherents of all religions, 
found personal peace and happiness in his own system of 
ethics. All events are part of the uniform and mechanical 
processes of nature; but nature is also God, and can be loved 
with an intellectual love. Such love of God will free a person 
from "bondage" to disturbing emotions, and afford him "free- 
dom" and inward serenity. It will be possible for him to live 
in peaceable and kindly relations with his neighbors, to love 
those that hate him, and to return good for evil. This ethical 
philosophy is interesting as an attempt to combine the mechan- 



172 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

ical necessity of physical science with religious pantheism in a 
manner affording moral support to the individual in his personal 
life. Spinoza made some advances beyond Descartes and 
Hobbes in the psychology of ethics, — notably in his analysis 
of the fundamental instinct of self-preservation, and deriva- 
tion from it of the various emotions and passions, including 
sympathy. His political philosophy is more modern in spirit 
than Hobbes. He maintains, for instance, that subjects are 
not obliged to obey a ruler if he is unable to afford them security; 
they then have the right to institute another form of govern- 
ment. A democracy is the best form of government, recognizing 
the principle that all powers come from the people. Spinoza 
was perhaps the first to point out the gradual development of 
moral and religious conceptions in the Hebrew Bible; to this 
extent he was a forerunner of modern comparative ethics. 

Brief mention can only be made of a few other important 
ethical systems of the Renaissance. Herbert of Cherbury 
(t 1648) sought to find fundamental moral principles on which 
adherents of all religions might agree. He revived and applied 
in his own way the Stoic doctrine that there are innate moral 
principles common to men of all nations and ages; these innate 
ideas have been implanted by God in the human mind, and are 
recognized intuitively. The Cambridge Platonists, Ralph 
Cudworth (f 1688) and Henry More (f 1687) in refutation of 
Hobbes affirmed that moral principles, including benevolence, 
are as rational and eternal as those of mathematics, and not 
human conventions resulting from a social contract. Their 
method is highly abstract and formal; they could not make 
practical applications of their eternal principles to everyday 
experience. Richard Cumberland (f 1718) was broader in his 
outlook. The fundamental moral laws of nature are rational 
and absolute, and come under the supreme law of benevolence, 
"the common good of all." However, we have to learn the laws 
of nature and their practical applications inductively, through 
experience, rather than by formal deduction. Thus he sensibly 
tried to combine rationalism and empiricism in ethics, although 



MODERN MORAL DEVELOPMENT 173 

he did not succeed in formulating a moral philosophy that was 
either coherent or easily understood. 

IIL The Enlightenment 

The Revolution of 1688 gave the control of the British govern- 
ment to the people as represented in Parliament. The new 
dynasty and their ministers were conciliatory in their policies, 
and succeeded in winning the loyal support of nearly all of the 
various factions that had been contending for domination 
throughout the seventeenth century. This was done by per- 
suading all to live and let live ; by affording wide religious tolera- 
tion, freedom of speech, publication and association, and re- 
moving excessive governmental regulations of trade and of 
colonization. Great Britain became the leading commercial 
and financial nation of Europe, and acquired a vast empire 
beyond the seas. The only large nation whose citizens were 
really free, the British led Europe in the philosophical interpreta- 
tion of what freedom means. The intellectual classes in the 
other nations admired and emulated them. 

The British have always been a practical nation, more 
interested in results than abstract theories. The rival theologi- 
cal and metaphysical systems of the preceding century had in a 
sense refuted one another; if any had been able to prove itself 
right, everybody would have come to accept it, just as every- 
body did the conclusions of Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton. 
It is better not to trouble ourselves about questions that cannot 
be solved by human experience. We should, as Pope expressed 
it, know ourselves, and not attempt to speculate about the 
nature and attributes of God, for "the proper study of mankind 
is man". Everything must be judged from the standpoint of 
human reason and experience. 

John Locke (f 1704) was the philosophical interpreter of 
the new period, and all subsequent developments in its thought 
can be traced to his influence. His works were widely read in 
all countries throughout the eighteenth century. With his first 
philosophical book. An Essay on Human Understanding, the 



174 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

Enlightenment begins. The first thing to determine is the 
limits and character of human understanding. All our knowl- 
edge has its origin in sense perceptions and their interpretation 
by the mind. There are no innate moral principles; for no 
moral maxims are universally recognized by all races, as would 
be the case if any were innate. He does little to set forth a 
system of individual ethics, although he makes a few sugges- 
tions: (1) All conduct is and should be motived by the desire 
for pleasure and the avoidance of pain ; (2) God has so ordained 
events that, in the long run at least, when the next world as well 
as this is taken into account, righteous acts will afford most 
pleasure and evil acts most pain; (3) moral principles can be 
deduced and demonstrated like those of mathematics. The 
first of these suggestions makes Locke a forerunner of the 
Utilitarians; the second is a continuation of theological ethics 
that influenced later theological writers like Paley; the third 
is prophetic of ethical realism, which still has adherents. 

In his subsequent books Locke made important contributions 
to political and social ethics. His polemical Treatises on Govern- 
ment are a philosophical defense of the Revolution of 1688. In 
refutation of Hobbes, Locke pointed out that men in a state 
of nature, according to the reports of explorers, frequently ob- 
serve good faith and keep agreements. They often manifest 
good will toward one another. So Locke concludes that life, 
liberty, and property are natural rights that are morally bind- 
ing logically and historically prior to a social contract and forma- 
tion of a state. The social contract is between the citizens and 
the ruler; they have the right to depose him if he proves an un- 
satisfactory agent, and to choose another in his place. Locke 
thinks of revolution — "the appeal to Heaven" and the arbitra- 
ment of war — as an expedient to which resort should only be 
made when all other efforts to secure redress of grievous wrongs 
have failed. In opposition to Hobbes and to contemporary 
defenders of the Stuarts, Locke maintains that there is a moral 
right to revolution in such cases. (The American Declaration 
of Independence is in \\\v spirit of Locke's philosophy. It 



MODERN MORAL DEVELOPMENT 175 

afl&rms the natural rights of mankind, which the ruler has dis- 
regarded, and recounts the wrongs suffered in consequence. 
It refers to unavailing efforts of subjects to secure redress, in 
order to show that they are now justified in an appeal to Heaven 
and the judgment of a candid world.) A government, according 
to Locke, should be a balance of powers between executive and 
legislature, with primary control in the latter. 

Locke believed that property originated by the accumulation 
and saving of the fruits of labor; it is a natural right that 
antedates the formation of states whose duty is to protect it — a 
doctrine that has influenced both individualistic and socialistic 
thinkers down to our own times. It is a natural right to follow 
the religion of one's own choice; so Locke in his Letters on 
Toleration defended the right to religious toleration. ^ He was 
a devout and kind-hearted Christian. As its title indicates, one 
of his books is a defense of The Reasonableness of Christianity; 
simple trust in Christ is of chief consequence, and relatively 
slight importance is to be attached to theological doctrines like 
the Trinity. His two essays dealing with education {Thoughts 
on Education and Conduct of the Understanding) were a great 
advance upon the theory and practice of the times: teaching 
should appeal to the interests of the pupils and learning be made 
pleasurable; education is chiefly concerned with the formation 
of right habits of study, and, above all, of moral conduct. 
He emphasizes — some would say exaggerates — the value of 
mathematics, logic, and other formal subjects for the sake of 
mental discipline. On these sides of educational theory Locke 
can hardly be improved upon to-day; his chief defects are a 
failure to take account of instinctive tendencies in the child, 
and to allow him sufficient freedom of initiative.^ 

The third earl of Shaftesbury (Anthony Ashley Cooper, 
1 1713) applied the empirical standpoint to systematic ethics, in 
its individual aspects. In many respects he deserves to be 
called the father of modern ethics. He saw the importance of 
instincts in human conduct and put ethics on a psychological 
foundation. Man has certain "affections" — instincts as we 



176 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

would now say: — the "self- affections", which lead him to seek 
his own welfare; the "natural affections" that lead him to seek 
the welfare of others; and the "unnatural affections" that are 
detrimental to both. The natural and self-affections when 
properly balanced are found to coincide in their promptings : man 
is a social animal, he can find no happiness except as he shares 
his pleasures with others, undue self-sacrifice is both contrary 
to self-affection and to social welfare. This thesis is defended 
at length, with empirical arguments. The ideal life is there- 
fore one with a symmetrical development of natural and self- 
affections, and with unnatural affections eliminated. The gen- 
eral conception is largely Hellenic and aesthetic in spirit, a 
modern adaptation of the Aristotelian golden mean. Man has 
a moral sense that affords him pleasure at rightful actions and 
displeasure at cruelty and injustice. The promptings of this 
sense help to assure the proper balance of the affections.^ 

It will only be possible to review rapidly a few of the many 
ways in which the brilliant conceptions of Locke and Shaftes- 
bury were developed in the ethical thought of the Enlighten- 
ment. Bernard Mandeville (f 1733) in the Fable of the Bees 
(a clever satirical poem followed by a dry commentary) attacked 
the benevolent optimism of Shaftesbury's interpretation of 
human nature, and disclosed the frequent selfishness of human 
beings which he argues leads them to actions of public bene- 
fit. Francis Hutcheson (f 1747) developed constructively the 
aesthetic side of morality, and the doctrine of a moral sense, 
making the latter more cognitive and rational in his posthumous 
book, Moral Philosophy. Joseph Butler (f 1752) advanced 
with great penetration arguments to show that self interest and 
conscience ultimately coincide in their promptings, but that 
conscience is the safer guide. David Hartley (t 1757) and 
Joseph Priestley (f 1804) developed Locke's ethical stand- 
point along lines prophetic of modern physiological psychology. 
David Hume (f 1776) described with great acuteness the role 
of sympathy in moral conduct, and the moral approval and 
pleasure that utility (in the sense of what promotes happiness) 



MODERN MORAL DEVELOPMENT 177 

affords. Adam Smith (f 1790), a close friend and largely a 
disciple of Hume, improved several of his conceptions. He is 
now probably best known for his Wealth of Nations, in which 
are set forth the foundations of the science of political economy. 
In his hardly less important Theory of the Moral Sentiments he 
foreshadowed the important modern sociological doctrine of 
"consciousness of kind". ^ Smith rationalized the doctrine of 
sympathy in ethics: the sympathy we most desire in moral 
conduct is that of one whom we might conceive as a wise and 
impartial spectator of all that we think and do. In this manner 
he coordinated the roles of sympathy and conscience. Of all 
the moral philosophers of the Enlightenment, he best understood 
the nature and importance of sentiments, which we shall find 
in Part II to be basic for the psychology of ethics. 

Early in the eighteenth century Voltaire (f 1778) brought 
the spirit of the Enlightenment into France, where under his 
leadership and that of Denis Diderot (f 1784) and the other 
Encyclopedists, it permeated the literature and life of the in- 
tellectual classes. There church and state were still autocratic, 
and the men of the Enlightenment with some personal peril 
fought bigotry and intolerance, and won a moral victory for 
principles of freedom of scholarly investigation, speech, and 
publication. Bitter because of repression, they attacked dog- 
matic theology vehemently, vindicating the independence of 
ethics, psychology, and the natural sciences. Montesquieu 
(t 1755) imported and further developed Locke's political 
philosophy, setting forth the doctrine of the parity and co- 
ordination of executive, legislative and judicial functions (which 
became a fundamental principle in the Constitution of the 
United States). 

In the early years of its existence in both England and France 
the Enlightenment had been largely intellectual. It had dep- 
recated the emotions, and taken little account of the needs 
and rights of the common people. John and Charles Wesley, 
George Whitefield, and other leaders in the "evangelical move- 
ment" appealed to the emotions and sympathies of the common 



178 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

people and intensified their religious life. Among British 
philosophers Hume and Adam Smith in their interpretation of 
sympathy recognized the place of feeling and emotion in 
the moral life. In France, Jean Jacques Rousseau (f 1778) 
asserted still more fully the worth of the feelings. He did much 
to initiate the Romantic movement in literature, in which 
feelings and sentiments were given free expression in poetry, 
autobiography, fiction, and descriptions of natural scenery. 
In contrast to Locke, Rousseau in his views on education of the 
young takes larger account of the training of the feelings and 
the encouragement of natural spontaneity. His influence 
strengthened the desire in France for free political institutions, 
and for the abolition of the unjust privileges of the upper classes 
and the economic oppression of the poor. All men have natural 
rights of liberty and equality. A true state would be the expres- 
sion of the common will (volonte generale) of the entire people. 
By being a citizen a person should at once be maker and obeyer 
of the laws. The Enhghtenment in this later phase, under the 
influence of Rousseau, did much to bring about the French 
Revolution, which asserted the rights of man, and ultimately, 
not only in France, but elsewhere in continental Europe, 
abolished serfdom, freed the peasants from oppressive taxation, 
gave them a voice in the government, and to some extent 
ownership of the land. 

The faults of the Enlightenment were many. It proved 
impossible — or at least premature — to ignore metaphysics alto- 
gether in the study of ethics, and to base everything on empirical 
observation. Experimental methods in psychology were as j^et 
unknown, and there was little understanding of evolution. 
Human nature in consequence was analyzed superficially. In 
reaction against bigotry the real merits of religion were under- 
estimated, especially in France, where some wished to do away 
with it altogether and championed skepticism and materialism. 
In gaining rights for themselves, victorious factions in the 
French Revolution did not bring about equal justice for all 
elements in the nation. Triumphant democracy — if such it 



MODERN MORAL DEVELOPMENT 179 

was — became violently oppressive, and order was only restored 
through a reversion to authoritarianism under Napoleon. Only 
gradually, as the hastily liberated lower classes acquired educa- 
tion and political experience, could each of the continental na- 
tions of the nineteenth century learn how to avert the injustices 
of political, religious, and economic oppression by a victorious 
party, and counter oppression by previously subjected parties 
when they in turn came into power. Ultimately, however, free 
national states under Citizenship realized in some measure the 
ideals implanted by the Enlightenment. 

On the more theoretical side of ethics, a firmer and more 
rational basis for moral conduct had to be sought than was af- 
forded by eighteenth century systems based on affections, sym- 
pathy, the moral sense, and subjective though generous senti- 
ments. The theoretical weakness of these systems was that they 
had no rational principles to which to appeal in order to convince 
those deficient in kindly emotions that it was their duty as well 
as their interest to observe the dictates of reason and conscience. 
So in the following period, a more objective basis for ethics was 
everywhere sought. 

When all the faults of the Enlightenment have been taken 
into account, the fact remains that with it the spirit of freedom 
first became dominant in modern thought and life. To the 
Enlightenment modern ethics owes its present position as an 
independent discipline, and many of its most important concep- 
tions. We are living in a richer world, intellectually, socially, 
and morally, because of the great movement which Locke and 
Shaftesbury did much to initiate. 

IV. The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries 

Modern moral development in this period manifests three 
notable characteristics. First, on the social side, the Romantic 
movement in literature and the life which it interpreted, the new 
spirit that Rousseau, Kant, and other philosophers brought 
into modern thought, the political and social tendencies mani- 
fested in the American and French revolutions, — all combined 



180 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

with the traditional teachings of rehgion to effect on every side 
an unparalleled increase in humanitarianism. Never before 
in the Occident had motives of kindness and sympathy for all 
classes and conditions of men become so powerful. Constant 
improvement in the conduct of prisons and treatment of crim- 
inals, debtors, paupers, the insane, and the poor and unfortunate 
of every type has been made in every generation in this period ; 
although, of course, there is still abundant need for further 
progress. The emancipation of serfs and slaves throughout the 
entire civilized world took place in the course of the nineteenth 
century. Foreign missionary efforts, especially in America, 
have been carried on with the gifts of millions of people of 
moderate means, and immense sums have been raised to relieve 
sufferers from wars, famines, earthquakes, and pestilences in all 
parts of the earth. Women and children have been cherished 
and safeguarded by law and public opinion as never before. 
Both married and unmarried women have received equal protec- 
tion with men in civil and property rights such as they had not 
known before, even in Roman imperial times. The mother has 
been legally placed in an equal position with the father with 
respect to their children. Educational and economic opportu- 
nities have been afforded to women on equal terms with men. 
Since the opening of the present century women have received 
the suffrage and the right to hold office in the majority of 
civilized countries.® Free public schools and compulsory educa- 
tional laws are found everywhere, and movements to prohibit 
or restrict the labor of children are becoming successful. A 
more humane theology has supplanted the harsher conceptions 
of previous times.'^ 

Secondly, on the economic side, the opening decades of the 
nineteenth century witnessed the industrial revolution. With 
the employment of steam in industrial processes, and with other 
inventions, large scale production became economically advanta- 
geous. Commodities were produced in large quantities at 
smaller cost. Laborers flocked to the cities for employment and 
were forced to live and work under wretched conditions. Their 



MODERN MORAL DEVELOPMENT 181 

work became monotonous and uninspiring, with little chance for 
personal craftmanship. Their nerves were exhausted in the 
effort to keep up with steam impelled machinery running at 
excessive speed. With production concentrated in large manu- 
factories, personal contact between employers and men became 
rare. For workingmen to combine in unions or to strike in order 
to obtain better wages and working conditions was at first a 
criminal offense. There was little protection to women and 
children, and their labor was cruelly exploited. Conditions 
were probably worst in England during the decade of the "ter- 
rible thirties ". The state of agricultural laborers and small 
farmers was not much better. As a result, notwithstanding 
the great advances in cheapness of production, the mass of 
workingmen and farmers were little if at all benefited by the 
industrial revolution. They had no equitable share in the 
increased wealth that it had brought into existence. 

Such injustice could not remain unchallenged in so humani- 
tarian an age. The struggle has been long and is by no means 
ended, but the worst conditions began to be corrected by the 
middle of the last century. Workingmen were legally permitted 
to organize. They received the suffrage. Partly by their own 
efforts, and partly by the aid of sympathetic members of other 
classes, they have been constantly gaining a larger proportion 
of the earnings effected by their labor. Their condition has 
become immeasurably better than it was before the industrial 
revolution. It has even become debatable whether, at the 
present time, American workers in some of the skilled trades are 
not receiving more rather than less than their just share of the 
products of industry. The moral consciousness of the period 
has become increasingly in sympathy with farmers. It is now 
recognized that social justice will never really be attained until 
men of all classes and conditions receive equality of considera- 
tion in the distribution of wealth, culture, and opportunity, 
taking into account their efforts and talents and the require- 
ments of the common good.^ 

Thirdly, on the scientific side, the moral tradition in this 



182 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

period has probably been most profoundly affected by the rise 
of the doctrine of evolution. The German idealistic philosophers 
of the early nineteenth century already had the notion; but 
with them it was speculative, lacking scientific confirmation. 
Their contemporary, Laplace (f 1827), however, advanced the 
nebular hypothesis in astronomy; and subsequent observations, 
strengthened by spectroscopic analysis, have established the 
fact of some kind of celestial evolution. Charles Lyell's 
epoch making Principles of Geology, published in the early 
thirties, established the fact that the earth's crust has passed 
through successive alterations in accordance with the same 
laws and processes that we now see in operation upon it ; ca- 
tastrophes and miracles have since been banished from this 
science. Since 1859, when Charles Darwin's Origin of Species 
appeared, the descent of all plants and animals from a common 
ancestry has been generally regarded as established in biology; 
although the precise method of this evolution is still partly in 
controversy. Recent discoveries indicate the evolution of all 
chemical elements from energy in a less organized state. Com- 
parative psychology has been able to indicate the probable 
course of the development of animal consciousness and behavior. 
Beginning with Herbert Spencer's early work in the sixties, 
sociologists and moral philosophers have been busily tracing the 
successive steps in social and moral evolution. 

The man of to-day therefore realizes that he is in a world 
of constant change and growth. He is seeking to understand the 
laws of this evolution, and wherever possible, to control them. 
Such an outlook is in marked contrast with the static world view 
of the Renaissance and Enlightenment, when matter, animals, 
and men were supposed to be fixed quantities, capable of only 
slight modification and improvement. In those epochs men 
were likely to be either optimistic, like Leibnitz and Pope — 
this is "the best of possible worlds", "whatever is, is right"; or 
else, like Calvin, to be rather pessimistic, — mankind is by nature 
totally depraved since the fall, although a few may be made 
better by miraculous acts of divine grace. Men to-day are as 



MODERN MORAL DEVELOPMENT 183 

painfully aware of their shortcomings as before. But, by study 
of the laws of social and moral evolution, we are learning how 
to improve our own social and personal environment, and to 
hand down to the coming generation a better world and a finer 
moral tradition. The rise of the doctrine of evolution has made 
mankind wiser, more hopeful, and courageous. Nor is it neces- 
sarily making people less religious. Those religiously disposed 
can discover their God operating in the evolutionary processes 
of the physical world, gradually revealing Himself to mankind 
in the development of religions, and coming to the aid of in- 
dividuals in their personal worship of Him. 

Immanuel Kant (f 1804) with whom it is customary in the 
history of philosophy to date the beginning of this period, 
desired a more objective basis for ethics than can be found in 
feeling and emotion. Influenced by the great accuracy of 
mathematics and physics, he sought moral laws that would be 
equally exact and universal. Rousseau had inspired him with 
the humanitarian spirit, and he recognized the moral value 
of every human being. He sympathized with the movements 
toward free institutions in America and France, until he became 
horrified by the excesses of the French Revolution. One of 
Kant's formulations of the moral law, considerably paraphrased, 
is that every person should always act on principles that he 
would be willing to see become universal laws of nature gov- 
erning the actions of all mankind. Another formulation is, that 
every human being should act with respect for his own moral 
worth as a human being, and the similar worth of every other 
person. Kant's theoretical philosophy asserted the dignity of 
humanity; it taught that the whole physical world in the form in 
which we experience it is the construction of our minds, so we 
have no way of knowing its ultimate nature. On moral grounds 
he advanced arguments in favor of faith in the existence of God, 
the freedom of the human will, and immortality. In reaction 
against the materialistic and skeptical tendencies of the En- 
lightenment, Kant's philosophy was welcomed with great 
enthusiasm by the more spiritually and idealistically minded. 



184 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

It exerted great influence throughout the nineteenth century. 
The merits of Kant's ethics will be appraised in Part III. 

An objective basis for ethics was sought in a simpler manner 
by the Scottish or Intuitionist school. While some of the chief 
contentions of this school were previously stated by Richard 
Price (t 1791), who revived the general standpoint of Cam- 
bridge Platonism, Thomas Reid (f 1796) is regarded as its 
real founder. The general position rests on ethical realism: 
"good," "right," and similar ultimate moral notions are in- 
trinsically valid, independent of human knowledge and feelings 
about them ; they cannot be reduced to pleasure, happiness, per- 
fection, sympathy, social welfare, or anything else. To ethical 
realism this school added its distinctive doctrine of intuitionism: 
the rightfulness and wrongfulness of actions in the course of 
our lives is directly perceived by us through the common sense 
and conscience that God has given to us. Of course the moral 
faculty of each individual is not infallible; it needs education, 
training, exercise in social relations, and habit formation. But 
introspection and experience disclose the fundamental values. 
Emphasis is put on character and right motives; opportunism 
and undue concern about consequences are deprecated. Dugald 
Stewart (f 1828), Thomas Brown (f 1820), Wilham Whewell 
(t 1866), and James Martineau (f 1900) developed the prin- 
ciples of Intuitionism, the latter two with modifications and con- 
cessions to other schools. Intuitionism was long the prevailing 
philosophy in America, where Presidents James McCosh of 
Princeton (f 1894), and Noah Porter of Yale (f 1892) were 
two of its last and most eminent representatives. 

The Intuitionists carefully described the motives to human 
conduct and so contributed to the psychology of ethics. They 
wrote wisely from their observation of human life. They 
exercised the sound common sense which they professed to 
be the foundation of their philosophy. They escaped absurdities 
into which logical consistency sometimes forced the more 
doctrinaire philosophers of rival schools. On the other hand 
they lacked system and coherence; their moral maxims were 



MODERN MORAL DEVELOPMENT 185 

often vague and superficial. With the advance of comparative 
ethics, which has disclosed the gradual evolution and modifica- 
tion of the dictates of common sense and conscience, intui- 
tionism has become untenable. Ethical realism, however, has 
recently been revived as an independent doctrine, and has 
supporters at the present time. 

The Utilitarian school sought an objective basis for ethics 
in hedonism. Pleasure and pain are definite; we all know what 
they are. "The greatest good to the greatest number" becomes 
a working standard, once we know that the "good" can be 
identified with the "pleasant". Happiness is a summation of 
pleasures. Virtues are traits of character, and duties are prin- 
ciples of conduct, that bring happiness in the long run; that is 
precisely why they are such, Jeremy Bentham (f 1832) 
believed that pleasures and pains can be measured quantitatively : 
those pleasures are most valuable which are most intense, 
certain, lasting, unalloyed, and productive of other pleasures; 
the pains with corresponding quantitative characteristics are 
to be avoided. John Stuart Mill {\ 1873) admitted that 
pleasures differ in quality; intellectual and sensuous pleasures 
cannot be reduced to the same denominator, the former are 
absolutely preferable. Henry Sidgwick (f 1900), while adher- 
ing in the main to Utilitarianism, corrected many of the crudities 
of the earlier doctrine, and tried to do justice to the contribu- 
tions of other schools. The earlier Utilitarians affirmed egoistic 
or psychological hedonism : every man as a matter of fact actually 
does and should seek his own pleasure. With egoistic hedonism 
as their point of departure, they advanced arguments to show 
that men in promoting their own interests will further the 
general happiness of mankind. All social measures should be 
adopted that will promote the greatest happiness of the greatest 
number of people. 

The Utilitarians were enthusiastic and successful advocates 
of social justice. Bentham started movements that led to 
sweeping improvements in the civil and criminal laws of England 
and many other lands. J. S. Mill developed the principles of 



186 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

political economy, and interpreted the significance of civil and 
political liberty, representative government, and the emancipa- 
tion of women. All the humanitarian movements in England 
during the first half of the century were greatly assisted by the 
Utilitarian movement. To attack obsolete laws and bad social 
conditions and to contend for better treatment of workingmen 
and women on the ground of intuitive rights or the Kantian 
philosophy was indeed possible, but it was simpler and more 
convincing to show that proposed reforms would be sure to add 
to the bulk of human happiness and to diminish human misery. 
The Utilitarians were emphatic individualists in their social and 
poUtical philosophy. Regarded as radicals in their own times, 
Bentham and J. S. Mill are now more often quoted by conserva- 
tives. Critics of Utilitarianism have found the philosophy too 
opportunistic in its consideration of practical consequences and 
not sufficiently idealistic in its exaltation of character; they 
have also pointed out various logical and psychological diffi- 
culties in hedonism. The extreme individualism of their social 
philosophy would not to-day be thought to allow sufficiently for 
public control of private interests, and governmental activities 
for the common good ; perhaps this cannot be said of Sidgwick. 
The merits of Utilitarianism will be evaluated in Part III. 
Suffice it to say here that although it was one of the most fruitful 
moral philosophies of the last century, few think that it can 
be retained to-day without considerable modifications in the 
light of recent social psychology, comparative ethics, and 
political experience. 

Beginning with the German philosophers succeeding Kant in 
the first half of last century, many different ethical sj'stems 
have been based on metaphysical idealism: the world order is, or 
in some sense is governed hy, spiritual and not material principles; 
it is therefore to he ufiderstood in terms of Mind. Johann Gottlieb 
Fichte (t 1814) believed that the whole universe has been 
willed into existence to carry out an ethical purpose. The 
vocation of any individual or nation is to make some unique con- 
tribution to this purpose. To realize one's vocation is to be 



MODERN MORAL DEVELOPMENT 187 

free; such freedom implies cooperation with others in society 
and identification with the Infinite Ego (a pantheistic God) 
whose will is revealed to one's conscience. Progress is due to 
men in whom the Infinite Ego expresses itself in marked degree ; 
they arouse the rest of us to shake off our inertia and slothful- 
ness and set about fulfilling our own vocations. Human history 
reveals the progressive advances of the Infinite Ego, — a kind of 
philosophy of history that is at least evolutionary and not 
static in its interpretation. The Fichtean type of idealism is 
lofty and inspiring in many ways, though Fichte himself and 
some of those influenced by him have appeared to the rest of the 
world at times rather visionary and at others egotistical. 
Of the later philosophers who in some way or other show the 
influence of Fichte may be mentioned: Thomas Carlyle (f 1881), 
Ralph Waldo Emerson (f 1882), Hugo Miinsterberg (f 1916), 
Wilhelm Windelband (f 1915), and Rudolph Eucken (f 1926). 
Georg W. F. Hegel (f 1831) was probably the most influential 
German idealist of the nineteenth century. The universe is an 
organic and spiritual whole, every part of which can be under- 
stood only in relation to the rest in accordance with rational 
principles. While the inorganic world, life, logic, and history are 
full of apparent paradoxes and contradictions, all these when 
understood philosophically are parts of this symmetrical whole, 
— "the truth is the whole", "the real is the rational". The 
absolute or universal Mind or Spirit (this conception is usually 
interpreted by students of Hegel as a pantheistic God) passes 
through stages of evolution in human history, law, custom 
morality, and ethical institutions like the family, civil society, 
and the state. The individual finds his freedom by identifying 
himself with the life and institutions of his time. The perfect 
State is the goal of history ; progress is the development of free- 
dom embodied in institutions. Though Hegel's philosophy con- 
tained many fantastic and absurd features, its admirers in 
time eliminated most of them, and developed the workable fea- 
tures into Neo-Hegelianism. This last became the dominant 
philosophy in Great Britain and America during the generation 



188 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

ending about 1900, and still has numerous supporters; few 
philosophers of the present time have not been influenced by 
it to some extent, especially in ethics. 

Among the fruitful ethical conceptions advanced by the Neo- 
Hegelians, the following are important. Individuals are organi- 
cally dependent upon one another, so that each can only achieve 
his personal good through contributing to the common good. 
Ethical ideals are embodied in institutions like the family, 
voluntary associations, and the state; so institutions should be 
appraised in the hght of their moral purposes. Such institutions 
are not mechanical combinations formed by an arbitrary social 
contract; on the contrary, they have grown out of human needs 
and interests, as expressions of our natural organic relation- 
ship to one another. There is a progressive moral and social 
evolution of ideas and institutions, in which man becomes more 
rational and free. Like Plato and Aristotle, emphasis is put 
upon the social and rational nature of the individual, and the 
interdependence of individuals upon one another. Like the 
Stoics, men are conceived as somehow participating in a common 
Mind or Reason; to be social, rational, and free implies identi- 
fication with the universal Mind or Will. With some of the 
school, the universal Mind or "Absolute" has been prominent, 
and there has been some tendency toward a mystical pantheism ; 
with others, there is little reference to the Absolute, and atten- 
tion has chiefly been put upon the social nature of rational 
thinking and conduct, and in general upon human personal 
and social problems and relationships. 

The Neo-Hegelians have done valuable work in ethical theory, 
political and social philosophy, and the philosophy of religion, 
although their prime attention has usually been directed to 
logic and metaphysics. Their chief faults have been a tendency 
to read their own logical schemes into facts better interpreted 
otherwise, and to prefer metaphysical speculation to the empiri- 
cal methods of modern social psychology and comparative 
ethics. Their influence on the general public has probably 
been less than that of either Intuitionists or Utilitarians because 



MODERN MORAL DEVELOPMENT 189 

few of them have been able to state their somewhat subtle and 
elusive ethics, dependent in their estimation on logic and 
metaphysics, in a manner comprehensible to those who are not 
specialists in philosophy. Perhaps Robert Browning has been 
most successful in popularizing the position in poetry.^ The 
Neo-Hegelians have sometimes been accused of a quiescent 
attitude toward social problems; since all is harmonious in the 
universal mind of the Absolute, we need not disturb ourselves 
about the evils in this world. This charge is unjust. Many 
of the greatest of them have been very active in carrying on 
social reforms, as well as in formulating social philosophy. The 
belief that all is harmonious in the Absolute, instead of making 
them quiescent, has stimulated them into active effort to make 
more of this harmony effective in human hfe and society.^" 
Among the famous Neo-Hegelians in Great Britain who have 
contributed to ethics may be mentioned: Thomas Hill Green 
(t 1882), Francis Herbert Bradley (f 1924), James Seth (f 1924), 
and Bernard Bosanquet (t 1923). Hastings Rashdall (f 1924) 
was influenced both by the idealism of T. H. Green and the 
utilitarianism of Henry Sidgwick. Among eminent Ameri- 
can Neo-Hegelians interested in ethics may be mentioned 
Josiah Royce (f 1916), James Edwin Creighton (f 1924), and 
Professor George Herbert Palmer. Professor John Dewey's 
earliest contributions to ethics were Neo-Hegelian in tone. Pro- 
fessors James Hayden Tufts and Frank Thilly have to some ex- 
tent been influenced by Neo-Hegelianism. 

Arthur Schopenhauer (f 1860), in contrast to Hegel, gave 
a pessimistic turn to German metaphysical idealism. The world 
order, though at bottom spiritual, is the expression of an end- 
lessly frustrated "will to live" instead of a successful deity; 
finite existence is selfish, and doomed to perpetual pain and dis- 
appointment. It is not much use to strive after anything; prob- 
ably one will fail to attain it, and even if one does succeed, he 
will not be contented, but will want something else. The wisest 
thing to do is to "deny the will to live" by eliminating all 
personal desires and ambitions, leading a life of self-renuncia- 



190 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

tion, practicing an ethics of sympathy, becoming absorbed in 
SBsthetic contemplation, performing works of asceticism like the 
saints of old, and steadily regarding life from the standpoint of 
this philosophy. Some critics credit this philosophy with im- 
portant ethical contributions that can be separated from its 
pessimism: e.g., its analysis of the will is a corrective of the over- 
intellectual tendencies in Hegel; to some extent the conceptions 
of the recent psychology of the subconscious have been antici- 
pated ; the import of sympathy in the moral life is developed in 
detail; the interpretation of art is illuminating. Schopen- 
hauer long had a great influence in Germany which was not 
altogether wholesome. Probably this was mostly due to his 
charming literary style. Perhaps those who in their youth have 
become converts of an over optimistic idealism (like that of 
Hegel) and later become disillusioned by the hard facts of life, 
are disposed to pessimism. It is said that many of the dis- 
appointed young patriots, after the failure of the Revolution of 
1848 in Germany, sought comfort in this philosoph5^ For some 
reason it became popular about that time. E. von Hartmann 
(t 1906) developed ethical pessimism more systematically, and 
moderated its harshness considerably. 

German idealism went through another surprising mutation 
in the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche (f 1900), for whom the 
"will to live" becomes the "will to power". One should affirm 
this vital impulse vigorously, "all good is instinct", and banish 
the maudlin sympathy for the weak and incompetent which 
Christianity, Utilitarianism, and democracy have inspired. 
Pity, sympathy, and the pursuit of happiness are all bad; one 
should "be hard". A return should be made to the noble, 
aristocratic, and self-assertive morality of pre-Christian Greece, 
Rome, and Germany. Thus a finer and more virile race of 
super-men (of whom Napoleon was a prototype) will replace 
the decadent man of the nineteenth century. The ethics of 
Nietzsche, partly on account of the brilliant literary style in 
which his pungent and striking aphorisms and poems are 
written, had a tremendous vogue in Germany in the generation 



MODERN MORAL DEVELOPMENT 191 

before the Great War, and also made some impression in France. 
It has been claimed that this influence did much to create in 
Germany a militaristic spirit, especially when combined with 
the jingoism of the political philosopher Treitschke. This 
is quite possible, as it would be natural to interpret many of 
Nietzsche's expressions, to favor brute force and ruthless- 
ness. However this does not seem to have been what Nietzsche 
really intended. In many ways an extremely kind-hearted and 
sympathetic man himself, he only meant to glorify spiritual 
force. He despised Darwin and Spencer, and the sources of his 
evolutionary views are not to be found in British biology but in 
German and Greek classical and romantic literature and 
philosophy. 

More constructive idealistic moral philosophers in Germany 
during the second half of last century were Friedrich Paulsen 
(t 1908), who assimilated in a consistent system many of the 
best developments of modern theoretical ethics, and Wilhelm 
Wundt (t 1921), who made important contributions to the 
comparative and psychological sides of ethics. 

Auguste Comte (f 1857), and the philosophers and sociolo- 
gists in France who have been influenced by the latter — Jean 
M. Guyau (t 1888), Emile Durkheim (t 1917), and many 
others — have conceived of social and moral evolution as closely 
connected. Rights and duties imply social relationships. In 
the family, the nation, and humanity, man has been learning 
to control the conditions of his growth, mastering physical 
conditions through natural sciences and learning in sociology 
and ethics to bring about a better social order. Like the Utili- 
tarians, they make ethics an objective study of facts and values 
in the spirit of a social science, independent of theology and 
metaphysics. Like the Neo-Hegelians, they conceive of moral 
progress as the evolution of humanity become self-conscious and 
intelligent, and they emphasize the organic side of human rela- 
tionships. Man should seek and love the good for its own sake, 
as an expression of his social nature, and not from a feeling of 
coercion by obligations and sanctions forced upon him from 



192 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

without. The French moral philosophers have been alive to 
the humanitarian, scientific, and industrial tendencies and prob- 
lems of the period, and have made substantial contributions to 
comparative, psychological, and social ethics. 

Herbert Spencer (f 1903) was the first philosopher to grasp 
and work out on a comprehensive scale an interpretation of 
social and moral evolution after Darwin had put biological 
evolution on a truly scientific basis. Making free use of analogies 
suggested by physics, biology, psychology, and sociology, he 
showed that the egoistic and altruistic tendencies that Shaftes- 
bury had found instinctive in man, are in the course of evolution 
tending to converge. External sanctions, like fear of the wrath 
of ghosts, deities, and human rulers, which in the earlier stages 
coerce men into moral conduct, are gradually being replaced by 
regard for good because of its natural results in increasing human 
happiness. As men become more perfectly adjusted to the 
physical environment, and to one another in society, their desires 
are becoming more harmonious, and warfare is giving place 
to peaceful commerce and industry. Spencer believed that 
eventually men will find it so completely in accordance with 
their interests and desires to act justly and generously with 
one another that they will do so spontaneously, and the feeling 
of duty and obligation will no longer be needed to overcome per- 
verse inclinations. Moral conduct will have become natural 
conduct. Spencer was a Utilitarian in defining good in terms of 
pleasure and happiness, though he improved Utilitarianism 
by giving it an evolutionary form of statement. He was also 
a Utilitarian in his attitude toward social justice: the general 
good can best be served if individuals of their free initiative 
look out for their own interests. State interference with in- 
dividuals should be kept at a minimum, and state activities 
confined chiefly to maintaining national defense from external 
invasion, and preserving internal order. While in some respects 
society is like an organism, the state is more like a joint stock 
company with limited liabilities, charged merely with the func- 
tions for which it has been brought into existence. 



MODERN MORAL DEVELOPMENT 193 

Experience has shown that the state should undertake more 
activities for the common welfare than Spencer supposed. Few 
to-day would be optimistic enough to hope that altruism and 
egoism will ever be completely reconciled. Nevertheless (in 
the opinion of the author at least) Spencer in his evolutionary 
standpoint took the most important forward step in ethics of any 
philosopher of the nineteenth century. 

Among contemporary writers in English who have recently 
made important contributions to the study of moral develop- 
ment from an evolutionary standpoint, mention may be made 
of Professors A. Sutherland, Edward Westermarck, L. T. Hob- 
house, William McDougall, John Dewey, and James H. Tufts. ^^ 
All of these writers have progressed beyond Spencer, yet the 
work of none of them would have been possible except for the 
foundations laid by him. Further discussion of moral evolution 
is unnecessary at this point, as the whole of this Part (especially 
Chapters II and III) has been intended to set forth an inter- 
pretation of it in connection with social development, while 
Part II will treat moral evolution from a psychological point 
of approach. 

One very important characteristic of the moral development 
of this period has been the intensification of self-consciousness 
in one national group after another, attended by the virtue of 
patriotism and the vice of chauvinism or jingoism. A good 
result has been the independence and unification of many 
oppressed peoples. A bad result has been the fierce national, 
industrial, and commercial rivalries that led to the Great War 
of 1914. Philosophers have considered how the morally good 
in national self-consciousness can be combined with the love 
of humanity and international good will. Problems coming 
under this head will be discussed in Chapter XV. 

REFERENCES 

* Dewey and Tufts, Ethics, chap. VIII. 

* L, T. Hobhouse, Morals in Evolution, Book II, chap. VII. 

* F. Paulsen, System of Ethics, Book I, chaps. V, VI. 



194 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

* Th. De Laguna, I ntrodudiou to the Science of Ethics, chaps. X-XII. 
F. Thilly, History of Philosophy. 
H. Hoffding, History of Modern Philosophy. 
W. Windelband, History of Philosophy. 
H. Sidgwick, History of Ethics. 
R. A. P. Rogers, Short History of Ethics. 
W. A. Dunning, A History of Political Theories. 
J. G. Hibben, The Philosophy of the Enlightenment. 
E. A. Albee, A History of English Utilitarianism. 
A. K. Rogers, Morals in Review. 



PART II 
PSYCHOLOGY AND ETHICS 



CHAPTER VIII 

SENTIMENTS 

In the approach of ethics from the side of psychology the 
most important principle for study is the sentiment. Moral con- 
duct, when considered from the side of the agent, largely con- 
sists of the formation and execution of moral sentiments (vir- 
tues) ; while immoral sentiments (vices) are responsible for much 
conduct that is wrong. A man's sentiments, taken together, 
constitute his character, or personality, that is, his self. His 
moral consciousness, consisting of the moral judgments that he 
accepts, arises in opposition to conflicting impulses as the voice 
of conscience, and he feels it his duty to obey it. Whether the 
judgments that his moral consciousness passes upon his own 
conduct and that of others are correct, depends upon the capac- 
ity of his self (i.e., his organized sentiments) for reason, in the 
ethical sense of the word. An action that is the expression of a 
hasty impulse, or of a single sentiment that is not wholly inclu- 
sive, is not rational ; nor is it a free act of the will. An action 
that expresses the desires of the whole self — the sentiments in 
their organic unity — is an act of will or volition, and in some 
sense is free. But before analyzing sentiments themselves, it 
will be necessary to notice more elementary processes that 
contribute to their formation.^ 

I. Reflexes and Habits 

The nervous system, as every one knows, consists of (1) 
afferent or sensory cells (neurones) leading from sense organs to 
the central system (spinal cord and brain) and the sympathetic 
system (ganglia in the viscera); (2) connecting cells; and (3) 
motor cells leading to the muscles. If a sense organ is stim- 
ulated, a nervous current at once runs from it to some point in 

197 



198 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

the central system; an adjustment is there made, and energy is 
released ; then an impulse passes down motor nerves to muscles. 
This may occur automatically. The pupils of a person's eyes 
contract and expand to the stimulation of light without his 
being aware of it ; his hand is involuntarily withdrawn from a hot 
stove which he has accidentally touched before he is actually 
conscious of pain. Such coordinations of afferent, central, and 
efferent nerve cells are called reflexes. They are mechanistic in 
operation. Given stimulation a over some sensory pathway 
to the central system, the central reaction c ensues, and evokes 
the motor impulse m; the process as a whole effects some adjust- 
ment of the organism to the stimulus. Consciousness need not 
attend the operation at all; such reflexes do not appear to be 
under our guidance or control, even if we happen to be aware 
of them. All reflexes are innate; if not present at birth, they 
make their appearance early in life, when nerve cells have 
sufficiently developed. 

Many modes of behavior are combinations of reflexes. The 
reflexes are inherited, but the combinations are acquired. Walk- 
ing is an illustration. A baby learns to coordinate the necessary 
reflexes when nerve cells and muscles are sufficiently developed, 
and he takes his first steps. More conscious effort is necessary 
to control the reflexes of the vocal cords and other organs in- 
volved, and to learn to talk. Such coordinations of reflexes 
might in a sense be classified as habits, since the coordinations 
have to be learned, although the constituent reflexes are inher- 
ited, and the infant has strong and possibly innate impulses to 
coordinate them. Riding horses and bicycles, operating type- 
writers, driving automobiles, and playing pianos are indisputa- 
bly habits ; for in such cases there can be no hereditary impulse 
to acquire the form of behavior. 

A habit is a coordination of reflexes that has been acquired, 
as a result of activities of the organism prompted bj' a conscious 
impulse. In the process of the formation of a habit, more or 
less attention and direction are necessary. After the habit 
has been well established it will go on somewhat automatically, 



SENTIMENTS 199 

with much less attention than was requisite while it was being 
learned. The different movements involved in buttoning our 
clothes and tying our shoes go on so automatically that as adults 
we are hardly aware of them; so we find it difficult to discrim- 
inate between them in order to point them out in succession 
to a little child who is trying to learn them. However, a con- 
scious (or subconscious) impulse is always requisite to initiate 
any habitual action, to direct its general course, and to terminate 
it. Habits like dressing and writing are different from reflexes 
like breathing and sneezing. Though combinations of reflexes, 
habits are always subject to at least a minimum of conscious 
guidance and control, and are employed to carry out conscious 
purposes.^ 

n. Impulses and Instincts 

An impulse, as the term will be here employed, may be 
defined as an enduring disposition of the human organism, im- 
bedded in the structure of the brain and nervous system, which 
is sometimes quiescent and sometimes active. (This usage is 
arbitrary on the part of the author, but convenient.) The im- 
pulse is aroused into action through stimulation by an object 
of some general type. It then includes a desire or appetite im- 
pelling exertion in order to effect a more favorable change in 
the situation in which the person is placed. Attending the 
awakened impulse is a characteristic emotion which is intimately 
connected with (perhaps consists of) various organic processes, 
largely in the viscera, and the sensations and feelings that 
accompany them.^ The emotion serves to reinforce the drive 
in various ways, mental, and physiological. If the impulse is 
checked in its operation by external obstacles, or by the competi- 
tion of other impulses, further organic disturbances occur, and 
the emotion becomes more intense. Sometimes an emotion 
becomes blended with other emotions and modified in various 
ways. If an impulse is successful in its operation, and the 
simultaneous mental and organic processes are unimpeded, 
pleasure will be experienced; if it is seriously thwarted but re- 



200 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

mains intense, the feeling tone will be unpleasant. Impulses are 
more complicated than the kinds of reflexes and habits men- 
tioned in the preceding section. They are more vehement and 
persistent in efforts to achieve their goals. They are more 
adaptable in modifying behavior to changing conditions in the 
external situation. Consciousness (or the subconscious) is con- 
spicuous in them. 

As an illustration, the primary impulse oi flight or escape is an 
enduring disposition of the human organism. It may be aroused 
into action through stimulation by various objects. The 
stimulating objects may be physical, and perceived through the 
senses; or they may be the outcome of processes of imagination 
or reasoning that render an individual apprehensive, either for 
himself or for other persons or interests which concern him. 
In any event, he experiences the emotion of fear and an appetite 
or desire to escape from the impending danger. When con- 
fronted by a physical object of danger, the motor mechanism 
of escape may be the reflexes and habits involved in running 
on the ground, dodging, climbing a tree, hiding behind a wall, 
or calling a police officer; the successive employment of each 
may occur in any order, depending upon the changing circum- 
stances. When confronted by a danger imagined or conceived, 
motor mechanisms may be chosen to effect the person's entrance 
into the office of an insurance agent, a banker, a lawyer, a 
physician, or a clergyman, in search of appropriate counsel and 
assistance. 

In all cases, whether the object of danger is physical or 
ideational, the emotion of fear has certain characteristics; at 
the least, slight irregularities in respiration and heart action 
that a close observer could detect, and a peculiar mental state 
hard to describe, but which every reader will recall. The organic 
disturbances of fear increase as danger appears more imminent, 
and means of escape prove unavailing; in extreme cases fright 
has been known to eventuate in paralysis and death. If meas- 
ures of escape prove successful, there is little awareness of 
organic disturbances, attention being concentrated on the 



SENTIMENTS 201 

external situation. While success is being achieved, the activity 
is felt to be pleasurable, and thrills of satisfaction are expe- 
rienced. Those who are hardy and athletic often seek physical 
dangers, and keenly enjoy escaping from them; the weak and 
timid find efforts to escape difficult and intensely unpleasant, 
so they avoid such situations at every cost. Those fond of 
dangers of an ideational sort delight in financial speculation, 
law suits, flirtations, and other perilous adventures.'* Prudence 
is a moral and virtuous exercise of this impulse ; acts of coward- 
ice are immoral expressions of it, while phobias are nonmoral 
because pathological and hence irresponsible manifestations 
of fear. This impulse of escape or flight includes all attempts 
at self-preservation through the avoidance of danger; its attend- 
ant emotion of fear includes all feelings of fright, alarm, and 
trepidation. 

The other principal primary impulses of most importance 
for ethics will be reviewed more briefly. The impulse of combat 
or pugnacity (including aggression and resentment) is attended 
by the emotion of anger (including rage, fury, annoyance, and 
irritation). This impulse is peculiar, in that what evokes it is 
an obstacle to the satisfaction of some other impulse. Animals 
and men fight for objects of hunger and sex, and for the protec- 
tion of self and offspring; they probably do not fight from the 
sheer desire for combat for its own sake.^ This is an ethically 
important fact, which explains why law courts have supplanted 
private vengeance in social evolution, and affords hope that in- 
ternational law may sometime entirely displace wars. The 
impulse of repulsion and the emotion of disgust (nausea, loathing, 
repugnance) are aroused by physical objects that are slimy to 
touch or emit bad odors, as well as by those morally slippery 
and repulsive persons to whom such epithets as "skunk", 
"reptile", and "copperhead" seem appropriate. There is less 
chance for a person who has become an object of disgust to 
overcome the unfavorable sentiments of those who dislike him, 
than for a person who is only the object of hatred evolved from 
the pugnacious impulse. We may respect enemies with whom 



202 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

wc are habitually angry, and ultimately become reconciled with 
them; this is hardly possible in the case of enemies whom we 
loathe. 

The parental or protective impulse, in evolution first applied 
instinctively by female animals to their young, often becomes 
extended in the case of human beings to small children, to 
animals, and even to delicate works of art and other inanimate 
objects. The impulse is strong in most men toward women, 
especially if they are young, beautiful, helpless, or confiding. 
It is attended by tender emotion, a feeling of kindliness, tender- 
ness, and protection. This emotion often manifests itself in 
connection with sympathy; it is also a constituent of the com- 
plex emotion of pity, and the sentiment of love. With none of 
these, however, should it be confused, for it is the primary basis 
of movements for the welfare of children and animals, and 
plays an important part in acts of altruism of many kinds. The 
impulse of sex, the specific attraction of each sex for the other, 
is extremely important for ethics. Its attendant emotion has 
no very satisfactory name. Lust will answer, if it is possible 
to restore the word to its original significance, as a normal 
emotional state in proper circumstances. It is only one of the 
impulses constituent of the sentiment of sexual love. Curiosity, 
the will to know, and its emotion of wonder, a desire for ac- 
quaintance with the unknown, is a constituent impulse of all 
inquiry and discovery, from foolish gossip to serious scientific 
research. 

Self-abasement or submission (with the emotion of subjection, 
including inferiority, humility, submission, and negative self- 
feeling) normally manifests itself in shy modesty and proper 
regard for superiors. It is immoral in chronic lack of self- 
reliance, and habitual understatement of one's capacities, and 
it is pathological in "inferiority complexes". Self-assertion, 
with the emotional accompaniment of elation (or positive self- 
feeling, including masterfulness, domination) is moral when it 
appears as a demand for recognition of one's deserts, but is 
often immoral in niauifestations of arrogance, undue pride, 



SENTIMENTS 203 

vanity, and conceit, and bpcomes pathological in paranoia and 
megalomania. The social or gregarious impulse causes men to 
seek the society of their fellows, and, when this is impossible, 
to feel the emotion of loneliness, isolation, or nostalgia. This 
impulse may simply lead persons to flock to towns and crowds, 
in which it is more like the herding instinct of animals. In its 
higher forms it prompts to associated life in larger groups than 
the family. 

The food-seeking impulse with the emotion of hunger, the 
acquisitive impulse with the emotion of ownership or possession, 
and the constructive impulse with the emotion of creativeness 
or workmanship, are sufficiently obvious. All three are ex- 
tremely important for the moral philosopher. 

All the impulses that have been named are present in all 
human beings. Each of them plays an invaluable part in the 
moral life of the individual as well as in society, and to each we 
owe some of the highest achievements of man. None of them 
ought to be suppressed; attempts to exclude any primary im- 
pulse from consciousness are liable to work havoc in the sub- 
consciousness, and to lead to grave mental and moral disturb- 
ances, which have been disclosed by psychiatrists in recent 
years.*^ The moral problem is how to afford each impulse nor- 
mal expression in a way that will unify it with the others in 
the development of character. 

These principal primary impulses do not appear with the 
same degree of strength in all individuals, races, and nations. 
Pugnacity, self-assertion, sex, and fear appear in many individ- 
uals and races with too great vehemence for the demands of 
modern civilized life, and so give rise to many contemporary 
moral difficulties. Acquisitiveness (as thrift and industry in 
the accumulation of property) and curiosity (in the sense of 
keen desire for learning) are too weak in the majority of people 
to-day, while they are extremely potent in the case of a talented 
few: a condition that partly accounts for the unequal distribu- 
tion of wealth and culture. For an individual to possess an 
unusually vehement impulse — especially if it is pugnacity, 



204 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

sex, or self-assertion — may well prove to be his moral ruin; 
but if he can learn neither to give it free rein, nor yet to sup- 
press it or dissociate it from his other impulses, but to coordi- 
nate it with other interests and activities in individually and 
socially beneficial channels, such an impulse may enable him to 
be an effective and perhaps a great man in his generation. 
Pugnacity and self-assertion, rightly directed, may make a 
man a great constructive leader in all righteous conflicts. Sex 
energy diverted — the technical term is sublimated — into other 
than its spontaneous channel of expression, may make a per- 
son a successful poet, musician, religious leader, social worker, 
or athlete. Strong primary impulses furnish the driving power 
for great talents. The nations that have contributed most to 
human progress have had for their leaders men with strong 
primary impulses. 

Since individuals vary in the relative strength of their princi- 
pal primary impulses, they may be said to have different "dis- 
positions" in the popular sense of the word (not in the technical 
sense of disposition used at the beginning of this section in the 
definition of impulse). In this popular sense we speak of 
a person's "disposition" as "pugnacious", "curious", "cau- 
tious", "thrifty", "sociable", "meek", or "ambitious" ac- 
cording to the ruling impulse in his character and conduct. 
Many men of each kind of "disposition" are valuable members 
of society, and it is well that there is such a diversit3^ On the 
other hand, there are men whose undisciplined "dispositions" 
are hurtful to themselves and others. Further ways in which 
impulses vary in individuals are in their persistency, and in the 
degree of their affectability by pleasant and unpleasant feelings.'^ 
The problem of moral education might well be stated as that 
of the right education of impulses. 

Are these principal primary impulses instincts or are they 
habits, or are they partly one and partly the other? An instinct 
is an inherited impulse, not so mechanistic as a reflex, but adapt- 
able to different situations and subject to training. We have 
seen that a habit is acquired in the course of one's life, and that 



SENTIMENTS 205 

such activities as operating a typewriter and driving an auto- 
mobile are habits. Much attention is necessary to acquire 
habits; but once they have been acquired, httle attention is 
needed to direct them, although they never go on so auto- 
matically as reflexes. If the principal primary impulses are 
habits, they are certainly habits of a very different nature, for 
they are attended usually by powerful emotions and desires. 
They appear early in life, most of them in the first few months 
of infancy.^ All human conduct is found on analysis to con- 
tain them. They are present in all individuals of all races of 
mankind, and vary only in degree, persistency, affectability, 
and perhaps a few other traits. 

The question whether and to what extent these primary im- 
pulses are inherited instincts or acquired habits is now widely 
debated among the psychologists, and there is no general agree- 
ment. The opinion of the author is that each of them at least 
has its foundation in an instinct. This instinct and its peculiar 
emotion, together with its traits of intensity, persistence, and 
affectability, remain unaltered through life except with the 
modifications natural to youth, middle life, and old age.^ 
However, the causes that evoke an instinct, and the modes of 
behavior by which it is expressed are mostly modifiable, and so 
may be classified as habits. What particular objects make a 
man angry, afraid, acquisitive, and curious, and in what ways 
he will seek to gratify these impulses depend on his experience 
and training, and what these later may be depends upon the 
moral tradition of the group; all this is habit and custom. On 
the other hand, the emotions attending these instincts — the 
characteristic feelings of anger, fear, ownership, wonder, and 
the rest — remain unaltered throughout life, except for their 
combination into complex emotions. Primary impulses may 
be organized into sentiments that are virtues and so constitute 
a good character or personality; or they may be organized into 
individually and socially harmful sentiments that are vices. 

The question whether the primary impulses are instincts or 
habits is momentous in its ethical importance. On the hypoth- 



206 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

esis that they are habits, infants are born into the world with 
Httle or no native psychological equipment except their re- 
flexes. Present differences in the character and attainments 
of adults are owing to habits or "conditioned reflexes" acquired 
during infancy and early childhood, when, as certain psycholo- 
gists from John Locke to Professor John B. Watson have af- 
firmed, they are like putty in the hands of their parents and 
teachers. ^'^ The moral problem for the educator is simply to 
select the mental and moral traits which he wishes a child to 
have when he is grown, and he can " condition " him accordingly. 
The statesman needs only to determine what kind of a social 
order is desirable, and to persuade society accordingly; this 
done, human nature in a few generations at most can be made 
over completely, so that it will assume the form of the social 
order decided upon. The present century may see man alter 
his own nature through the instrumentality of applied psy- 
chology as radically as he changed the conditions of his physi- 
cal environment in the nineteenth century by application of the 
physical sciences. 

On the hypothesis that the principal primary impulses are 
habits, it would be entirely practicable, should it be deemed 
desirable, for children in the future to be so educated that they 
would grow up entirely lacking our acquisitive, self-assertive, 
and parental impulses. As substitutes they would have im- 
pulses of an entirely different order. Every individual would 
be totally devoid of all desires for the ownership of private 
property, or for recognition of his own achievements by special 
honors or privileges of any kind. Instead, he would have a 
passionate desire to accumulate wealth to be owned by societj^ 
collectively, without the least credit of any kind being given 
him for his services. He would impartially love all children as 
much or even more than parents now love their own children. 
The pugnacious impulse, too, would no longer exist, even in its 
modified form of competition, and an unhampered impulse to 
cooperative effort would take its place. This done, conflicts 
between individuals, groups, and nations would be psycholog- 



SENTIMENTS 207 

ically impossible. Personal fights and law suits, strikes, lock- 
outs, civil and international wars, would all be unknown. 
Every action of every one would be inspired by the intense 
but totally disinterested desire to serve humanity. 

In accordance with this hypothesis it seems to follow that 
men of all races and nations are equal, so far as native inherit- 
ance goes. Present differences are the result of varying tradi- 
tions, customs, and physical environments, — in a word, of 
differences in opportunity. Since men of all countries are 
equal by nature, the only justification upon the part of any 
state for restricting immigration is to prevent newcomers from 
entering so rapidly that their children could not be taught the 
national tradition. Children of every race can in time be as 
completely assimilated in American culture as if they were 
lineal descendants of the Pilgrim Fathers. ^^ 

The author personally rejects the hypothesis that the prin- 
cipal primary impulses are habits. He favors the contrary 
hypothesis, that the principal primary impulses are instincts, 
fixed in prehistoric and largely in prehuman ages, and now sub- 
ject to Mendelian laws of heredity. It follows (in his opinion) 
that these instincts can now be modified only by slow processes 
of natural selection. The descendants of highly gifted stocks 
should be encouraged to leave a large posterity. The feeble- 
minded should be segregated or sterilized. More sweeping 
measures to improve the native qualities of future generations 
should be taken, as soon as eugenics shall become a more ma- 
ture and reliable science, with definite recommendations to 
make. Immigration laws should be carefully administered, so 
as to admit into a country only those whose native talents are 
at least equal to those of the present inhabitants. No future 
social or economic program should receive consideration, if it 
fails to take into account any of the principal primary instincts. 
Human nature can never be so transformed by social arrange- 
ments that men will have different passions from ourselves. 

However, even on the hypothesis that the principal primary 
impulses are not habits but instincts, much opportunity and 



208 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

responsibility are afforded parents and teachers. What objects 
provoke instincts, how the person acts when they are aroused, 
whether he forms virtuous or vicious sentiments, all are largely 
a matter of training. Advances in social evolution can be 
effected by statesmen and reformers through improvement of 
the moral traditions. For instincts, on the hypothesis now under 
consideration, are modifiable in at least three important respects. 
(1) Men can be trained so that new objects will evoke the in- 
stinct. This has happened frequently in past moral and social 
evolution. New objects, for instance, have aroused general 
resentment, and come to be classified as injustice, e.g., religious 
intolerance, feudal economic privileges, slavery, the subjection 
of women. (2) An instinct may no longer be stimulated by 
objects that once provoked it. Americans no longer feel anger 
at every individual German because of the Great War of 1914. 
(3) Instincts can be organized into sentiments and virtues, in 
ways to be later described in this and the following chapter. 
Three illustrations may be mentioned here, (a) Just as individu- 
als have long since learned to satisfy their pugnacious instincts by 
peaceful litigation in the courts, so nations are now learning to 
bring their disputes before international law courts, (b) During 
the past few years, while workingmen have been receiving larger 
incomes, they are beginning to accumulate savings, and have 
even gone into banking on a considerable scale. Present 
economic opportunities are releasing their acquisitive instincts 
which had long been suppressed. It begins to look as if there 
may not be so much difference between the relative strength 
of the acquisitive instinct in different individuals as has been 
supposed ; and that all, if given the opportunity, may be stimu- 
lated toward the accumulation of wealth. If this should prove 
to be true, a more nearly even distribution of wealth can be 
expected to come about on an individualistic basis. ^- (c) Per- 
sons who are now instinctively and sentimentally attached to 
their children, neighbors, and friends, can be taught to extend 
their good will more widely and deeply than they now do to 
humanity in general.^* 



SENTIMENTS 209 

III. Nonspecific Impulsive Tendencies 

Man as a gregarious animal is disposed to experience the 
same impulses as his fellows, particularly those in his own group. 
Impulses of flight, pugnacity, curiosity, and their attendant 
emotions spread rapidly through groups when conditions are 
favorable. During a financial panic every one is liable to be- 
come fearful, during a boom to become overconfident, during a 
religious revival to have the superficial emotions of conversion 
(though not the real experience itself) and during a time of 
national indignation toward a foreign country to become pugna- 
cious and clamorous for war. To adopt a certain form of conduct 
uncritically through the influence of others is unreflective Imita- 
tion; similarly to hold emotions is Sympathy (in the technical 
sense) ; while to adopt beliefs under the influence of others with- 
out careful examination is Suggestion. The three are closely 
related and similar in principle. They usually occur together, 
and in such cases they are to be regarded as phases of the same 
process. 

This human susceptibility is the cause of the evils of crowd 
psychology. Yet on the whole, it is a valuable human trait, 
whose service in moral evolution has been pointed out in pre- 
vious chapters. ^'^ It has made possible the transmission of the 
moral tradition. Enabled in the main to adopt the beliefs and 
customs of the past, each generation has leisure to attack re- 
flectively the new problems that it must solve for itself. Fur- 
thermore, since man is peculiarly apt in these ways to follow 
the leadership of those in each generation who have prestige 
(and usually deserve to have it), progress is furthered. People 
in general adopt the beliefs, practices, and sentiments of the 
experts of their groups. From this principle it follows that 
society should be differentiated to the extent that there will 
always be a superior group to assume leadership, while class 
fines should not be so sharply defined as to prevent the general 
population from following their leadership. Neither a commu- 
nistic democracy, with every one upon a dead level of mutual 



210 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

equality, nor a rigid caste system is favorable to social and 
moral progress. 

Sympathy (in the technical sense) calls for special notice. 
It enables us to put ourselves in the place of others, to under- 
stand how they feel, and hence to coSperate with them. Such 
sympathy does not necessarily guarantee kindly action. It 
enables a vindictive person to enjoy the sufferings of his de- 
feated enemy. A selfish person who feels sickened by sym- 
pathetic suffering hastens away from scenes of misery and 
makes himself speedily forget them. For physicians and nurses 
to feel the emotions of patients excessively would handicap 
them in their service. Clergymen and undertakers who felt as 
much suffering as the bereaved whom they serve would soon 
break down under the burden. However, all who aid others in 
times of emotional crisis must to some extent sympathize; else 
they would be too cold blooded to be really helpful. Pity is a 
composite of sympathetic suffering and tender emotion. While 
first drawn to such work by pity including much sympathetic 
suffering, those who constantly serve the unfortunate gradually 
learn to feel tender emotion without being inundated by the 
full flood of sympathetic suffering. Sympathy is also a con- 
tributing element to all movements of benevolence and social 
justice. Mutual toleration and good will among rival religious, 
economic, national, and other conflicting groups would become 
complete if it were possible to induce the members of each 
group to share the emotions and sentiments of the others. 

Play differs from other expressions of impulses through the 
fact that in it activity is engaged for its own sake, without 
ulterior motives. Children are serious in play; adults engage 
in games and sports as recreation, as a mode of relief from 
serious undertakings. The plays of children are often imitative 
of the activities of adults; by enacting the roles of policeman, 
fireman, mother, or nurse, they come into better though still 
imperfect understanding of these activities and so enrich their 
own personalities and outlook upon life. Many games give 
expression to the pugnacious or conipctitivo impulse in a peace- 



SENTIMENTS 211 

fill manner, affording an outlet to energy that might otherwise 
be expended in actual fighting. Baseball has been said to 
divert American boys and Filipino savages from actual fighting, 
and so to promote peace and good will. All the other principal 
primary impulses are also occasionally expressed in play— self- 
assertion on the part of leaders, submission on the part of the 
led, curiosity in games of guessing, both curiosity and escape 
in games of hiding and seeking, and so on. 

The value of athletic sports for moral education has often 
been pointed out, and sometimes exaggerated. Athletics foster 
self-control. They unify the competitive, self-assertive, sub- 
missive, and gregarious impulses of different individuals in 
interest and effort for a common cause. They teach con- 
testants — and sometimes spectators — respect for fair play and 
good sportsmanship, — ideals allied in principle to the virtues of 
justice and loyalty. The evils in athletic sports come chiefly 
under two heads. (1) Athletics, as Theodore Roosevelt pointed 
out to his children, tend to absorb a person's interest to the 
exclusion of matters of more importance. ^^ (2) The majority 
of those interested in athletics are spectators and not partici- 
pants, and so fail to get the full moral benefit of the contest. 
Some spectators, with over excited impulses which have not 
been afforded a normal outlet in playing in the game itself, 
find relief only in immoral diversions — gambling, drinking, and 
sexual misconduct. 

Msihetic activities are in some ways psychologically allied 
to those of play. In them, too, the interest is in activities for 
their own sake, regardless of ulterior consequences. In litera- 
ture, music, and all the fine arts, expression is given to impulses 
in a way that purges emotions of excess and grossness, as Aris- 
totle knew.i^ Violent impulses of pugnacity and sex, particu- 
larly, are diverted from immediate expression in harmful ways, 
and manifest themselves in sublimated forms that are beautiful, 
and either unmoral or morally uplifting. Symmetry and pro- 
portion are essential in virtuous, well balanced conduct. A 
beautiful life is a morally good life, viewed from the Hellenic 



212 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

standpoint, as well as from that of such modern moral philoso- 
phers as Shaftesbury and Hutcheson. The value of art in the 
expression of character and the teaching of morality has some- 
times been exaggerated. To identify the beautiful with the 
good would be to narrow both art and morality unduly. Yet 
there is undoubtedly some connection. Reference was made to 
the function of art as a socializing and morahzing agency in 
Chapters II and III. 

IV. Sentiments 

A sentiment is an organization, with reference to some object, 
of the most powerful and 'persistent human impulses. Senti- 
ments become organized with reference to all kinds of objects: 
oneself and other persons, animals, inanimate objects; classes 
of objects and activities of all kinds imaginable — e.g., rare 
coins, miniatures, hunting, golf, genealogical research, dogs in 
general, soldiers, fundamentalists, scientists; institutions, ab- 
stract qualities and ideals — e.g., alma mater, the Christian 
Church, the Republican party, higher mathematics, libertj^ 
internationalism, justice, truth. The term "complex" is some- 
times used by psychiatrists in a manner almost synonymous 
with "sentiment" as here defined. However, psychiatrists are 
chiefly concerned with mental abnormalities of different kinds, 
and the complexes which they discuss are usually pathological. 
Consequently it is preferable to reserve "complex" for morbid 
and pathological sentiments. The term "sentiment" has had 
a long history in ethics and is preferable for the moral philos- 
opher, who is chiefly concerned with the judgments and actions 
of normal human beings who are morally responsible. ^'^ 

Let us consider illustrations of sentiments. A stray kitten 
attracts a woman's attention. Being small and helpless, and 
needing assistance, it evokes the protective impulse for the 
moment, is petted, and given food. The kitten reappears at 
the next meal, and the acts are repeated. Before the woman 
realizes it, she has formed the habit of giving the kitten food and 
shelter, and it has established itself in her affection as a house- 



SENTIMENTS 213 

hold pet. Other impulses are soon evoked by the kitten in its 
mistress. She is curious to discover its tastes and activities, 
she is angry if a dog chases it, she feels elation at its prowess 
when it catches mice and brings them in to be commended. 
She feels shame and self-abasement if she discovers the kitten 
devouring a song bird which it has caught. She enjoys the 
kitten's companionship when lonely (gratification of the gre- 
garious impulse), and is fearful when the kitten has been hurt 
and seems Hable to die. Thus a whole system of impulses may 
become organized about a forlorn little kitten. This is an illus- 
tration of a sentiment of love (or friendship), having its origin 
in unthinking expressions of the protective impulse which be- 
come habitual, and gradually organize other emotions into a 
system with reference to the same object. A dog is capable of 
arousing a finer sentiment of love, as is shown in an eloquent 
description by Professor McDougall.^^ 

More highly developed friendships, of course, are formed 
for human beings. A friendship for a person of the same sex 
might arise as an expression of the gregarious impulse, and the 
desire for the sympathy of a person with similar tastes and 
interests. Perhaps a little self-feeling is involved in such 
friendships : — either in the form of admiration for a person who 
has, or is thought to have, superior accomplishments; or of self- 
assertion and gratification afforded a person by an admirer; or 
perhaps the simple desire for comradeship among equals, 
neither of whom looks up to or down upon the other. As 
Aristotle pointed out, in his incomparable discussion of the sub- 
ject, those friendships based on common character and virtues 
alone are likely to prove permanent; those based on utility and 
love of enjoyments are more transient. ^^ Romantic love between 
the sexes may, as romances and dramas show, begin and develop 
in innumerable ways. This sentiment, as Professor McDougall 
points out,-*^ sometimes originates with the social and protective 
impulses, before the sex impulse itself adds its immense energy 
to the system. All the important impulses in due course become 
centered about the beloved, who becomes the chief object of 



214 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

interest and concern. If marriage ensues, a home is established 
and children come, husband and wife find most of their impulses 
for the rest of their lives organized in sentiments about a com- 
mon object, their family. 

Sentiments of hatred have pugnacity or disgust as their 
nuclei. The same object repeatedly evokes one of these; it 
becomes habitual to be angry or disgusted at a certain person. 
Other impulses become organized in this sentiment of hatred. 
Fear is felt if an enemy prospers, curiosity is aroused to know 
what he is doing, self-assertion is strengthened by his defeats and 
subjection by his successes; and, in general, impulses are evoked 
in a contrary manner than toward objects of love and friendship. 

Still another group of sentiments are associated with the 
self. The self is ever with us, when we attend to it; we praise, 
condemn, criticize, and pity ourselves. We try to preserve a 
proper balance between the impulses of self-assertion and self- 
abasement in our estimates of ourselves: if we succeed, we attain 
the moral sentiment or virtue of self-respect; if we fail, we have 
some morally defective sentiment or vice, — egotism, vanitj', 
conceit, excessive humilit}^ self-depreciation, or lack of self- 
reliance. A man may habitually hate and despise himself, — a 
healthy attitude if he has been doing wrong, and is thereby led 
to a thorough moral regeneration, so that his sentiment justifi- 
ably changes from self-hatred to self-respect. Religious con- 
versions of the type where the penitent undergoes a strong 
conviction of sin are of this type.-^ Since we know ourselves 
by knowing others, and know other persons b}'^ knowing our- 
selves, sentiments analogous to those built up about the self 
as object of the impulses of self-assertion and self-respect are 
developed toward other persons. Respect for other persons who 
deserve it is a virtuous sentiment, and there is an ethical sense 
in which the humanity in even the most contemptible of men 
deserves a certain measure of respect. Condescension, scorn, 
toadying, excessive admiration, and hero worship are examples 
of wrong sentiments toward other persons in which the positive 
and negative self impulses play prominent parts. 



SENTIMENTS 215 

V. Complex Impulses and Emotions 

Man has so many impulses and emotions that he seldom ex- 
periences any of them singly. When two or more impulses and 
their attendant emotions are simultaneously aroused, they 
are likely to blend into a more complex process. Some such 
complex impulses and emotions occur, according to Professor 
McDougall, without being connected with sentiments. "Ad- 
miration", he believes, is a combination of wonder and sub- 
mission, as in the case of a child who exclaims "Oh, how wonder- 
ful"! or— "Oh, how clever"! or "How did you do it"? "Awe" 
is admiration tinged with a little fear, as in contemplation of 
physical nature in sublime action, like a magnificent thunder- 
storm or the Victoria Falls. On the other hand, "reproach" 
can only be experienced with reference to the object of a pre- 
viously formed sentiment. It is a fusion of anger and tender 
emotion stimulated by the conduct of a person toward whom 
one has the sentiment of love. "Oh, how could you do it"! 
is the natural exclamation of reproach on the part of a mother 
whose little son has been cruel to an animal. If a person has 
become the enduring object of a sentiment of hatred, the im- 
pulse and emotion felt toward him may no longer be simple 
pugnacity and anger, but an ardent desire for "revenge" and a 
"vengeful emotion". The " bashf ulness " of a little child too 
small to have developed very much of a self-regarding sentiment 
is a complex emotion due to a conflict between self-display and 
shyness. "Shame", however, is bashf ulness felt by a person 
with a developed consciousness of himself, who has felt a severe 
blow to his sentiment of self-esteem because of some discredit- 
able action on his own part. Professor McDougall gives other 
illustrations of complex emotions ; while a wealth of them, many 
taken from literature, have been carefully described and an- 
alyzed by Mr. Alexander F. Shand.^^ 

Regarding the analysis of human impulses and emotions, 
three observations are pertinent at this point. First, we should 
always be careful not to make too simple and crude an analysis 



216 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

of human conduct, whether of ourselves or others. Since we 
ordinarily experience several impulses and emotions at a time, 
the motives actuating our conduct are usually mixed. It is 
likely to be an over simplification to charge any action to a 
single primary impulse, even if it is the action of an individual. 
Biographers sometimes make this mistake. Still more is it 
erroneous to impute a single motive to any large group. A 
corporation, a labor union, a church, or a nation, is composed 
of many individuals with varied impulses and sentiments. The 
collective action of such a group is inspired by the wishes of 
many individuals with diverse motives. On the other hand, a 
few motives may be dominant in the majority, and determine 
the general course of action by the group. It would be fallacious 
to make motives more heterogeneous than they really are in 
such cases. Secondly, while some complex impulses and emo- 
tions appear in the absence of sentiments, none can be repeated 
very often with reference to the same object without the forma- 
tion of at least a rudimentary sentiment toward it. Once a 
sentiment is formed, the complex impulse and emotion are 
modified. To admire a single action of a person is different from 
the impulse and emotion evoked after repeated experiences of 
admiration for the same person, who has come to be regarded as 
somewhat of a hero. 

Thirdly, a complex impulse and emotion are more than the 
mere sum of their constituent processes. New qualities appear 
in the combination, and it has a certain uniqueness. The situa- 
tion is not altogether unlike that in chemistry. In water 
qualities are observable that are not found in either hj^drogen 
or oxygen taken separately : yet it is of value to know that water 
is the product of their combination in accordance with the 
formula II2O. So it is illuminating to be able to analyze com- 
plex impulses and emotions into their constituents; it affords 
better understanding and control of them. On the one hand, 
we must avoid the fallacy of refusing to recognize the fact 
that a complex emotion despite its uniqueness is a composite, 
which can only appear and endure while all of its constituent 



SENTIMENTS 217 

processes are in operation. On the other hand, we must avoid 
the opposite fallacy of fancying that we have fully explained a 
complex emotion when we have analyzed it into its constituents. 
As a complex emotion it is unique, and its constituents them- 
selves in some ways function differently because of their com- 
bination. It is an instance of an organic whole. Such a whole 
is more than the sum of its constituent parts; each part con- 
tributes to the whole and is modified by it. 

VI. Sentiments Are Organic 

A sentiment is another case of an organic whole. A sentiment 
is not a mere aggregate of simple and complex impulses and emo- 
tions directed toward a given object. To be sure, in its origin 
each sentiment is the effect of impulses repeatedly aroused in 
the same person by an object. But once a sentiment has become 
established it largely determines what future impulses shall be 
evoked by the object. 

As an illustration, let us suppose that Mr. A, who is a very 
rich eastern banker, gives an immense sum toward some secular 
charity. Mr. B, who has a deep sentiment of friendship for Mr. 
A, in which respect, admiration, affection, gratitude, and con- 
fidence are combined, has profound admiration for Mr. A's 
generosity, and sincerely praises his act to every one whom he 
meets. His previous sentiment for Mr. A has become intensified. 
Mr. C is an old enemy and business rival of Mr. A, and hates 
him heartily. The gift of Mr. A consequently arouses his anger 
and checks his own self-assertion. He feels that Mr. A is going 
to get a lot of applause that he does not deserve. Mr. C's emo- 
tions are combined anger, jealousy, and perhaps reluctant 
admiration at what he believes to be a clever piece of advertising. 
Mr. D does not know Mr. A personally, but he is greatly in- 
terested in the particular benevolence to which Mr. A has con- 
tributed. In him are therefore aroused favorable impulses and 
emotions toward Mr. A, and he acquires a sentiment of respect 
and affection for him. Mr. E is an ardent young radical who 
hates eastern capitalists, the class of which Mr. A is a member, 



218 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

although he knows nothing of Mr. A individually. To Mr. E, 
the action of Mr. A shows him to be a dangerous corrupter of 
the people by insidious gifts calculated to blind them to the 
harm that "the interests" are doing to the country. So in Mr. 
E are aroused emotions of fear, anger, and moral indignation 
toward Mr. A, now become for him the object of a new sentiment 
of hatred directed toward him personally, in addition to the 
general sentiment of hatred that he feels toward his class. 
The fact that Mr. E is not acquainted with Mr. A personally, 
and knows of him only in connection with certain activities to 
which he is opposed on what he believes to be moral grounds, 
makes his sentiment toward Mr. A more unqualifiedly hostile 
than even that of Mr. C, who knows him very well and cannot 
help respecting him in many ways although he is a business 
rival. We might go on to imagine the various impulses and 
emotions inspired in others by Mr. A's act, — his admiring and 
devoted wife and daughter; his extravagant and impecunious 
son-in-law, who fears that Mr. A is beginning to give away the 
bulk of his fortune; his pastor, who approves of philanthropj^, 
but prefers charities in the control of his own church; etc. 

As Mr. Alexander F. Shand has said, "every sentiment tends 
to include in its own system all the thoughts, volitional processes 
and qualities of character that are of advantage to it for the 
attainment of its ends, and to reject all such constituents as are 
either superfluous or antagonistic". -^ Selfish men grow hard- 
hearted because the sentiment of self-love gives little place for 
tender emotion ; if a selfish man is a pleasiu-e lover, he tends to 
lose pride because this is an obstacle to sociable entertainment ; 
while a selfish man who is ambitious has to maintain his power 
and superiority in the face of opposition and becomes proud. 
The sentiment of love develops sincerity, gentleness, kindliness, 
loyalty, courage, and forgiveness toward the object of this 
sentiment. So a dominant sentiment organizes extensively the 
various impulses and emotions into harmony with itself. At 
first this organization goes on with the person himself hardly 
aware of it. Later on, he becomes conscious of the impulses and 



SENTIMENTS 219 

actions characteristic of his sentiment, reflects upon them, and 
tries to cultivate them. For instance, the lover forms ideals of 
how he should feel and act toward his beloved, and so his 
tenderness and loyalty toward her increase. His ideals inspire 
a feeling of obligation and duty to realize them. His conscience 
reproaches him if his conduct falls short of these ideals. So 
each sentiment tends to develop a "relative ethics" of its own.-^ 

The sentiments must not be exclusively considered as mere 
aggregates of impulses, and the self must not be supposed to be 
simply a combination of sentiments. It, too, is an organic whole, 
greater than the sum of its parts. The sentiments constitute 
the self, so far as it is an organized moral whole; on the other 
hand, the self directs the sentiments. I am my arms and legs 
and other bodily organs, my memories and thoughts and im- 
pulses and sentiments, — there is nothing else that I could be. 
And yet I can and do move my arms and legs as I please. I re- 
call this memory, and I determine to act on that impulse rather 
than on a conflicting one. I criticize my sentiments. I decide 
that I should no longer hate that man, for after all he has many 
excellent qualities and the injury that he did me long ago may 
now well be forgotten. I determine to pay more attention 
to music and art, in which I have been little interested in the past ; 
and if I am young enough and determined enough, perhaps I 
shall succeed in developing a sentiment for things artistic that 
will at least be suflEiciently intense, refined, and discriminating 
to make me fairly respectable, so long as I do not visit Boston. 

This brief account of sentiments in their relation to impulses, 
emotions, habits, reflexes, and the self, though quite superficial, 
may suffice to introduce us to the psychology of the virtues, — 
the distinctively moral sentiments. The chief caution, again 
to be repeated, is to remember that human nature is far more 
complex than psychological analysis can reveal. Some essential 
traits of human character may be indicated, but all th^ finer 
shades and nuances in human character could only be appre- 
ciated by the study of individual persons. Every human being 
is a unique personality; no general rubrics can do him entire 



220 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

justice. He has thousands of sentiments toward objects of all 
conceivable kinds, and no two of his sentiments are alike. No 
sentiments of two individuals are identical; it is an exaggeration 
when two persons say that they have the same sentiment to- 
ward some subject. Every sentiment of every individual 
both helps to determine, and also is determined by, his char- 
acter as a whole. The psychology of ethics, therefore, is no 
exact science. However, it can suggest ways of approach that 
will give us a better understanding of ourselves and of others. 

REFERENCES 

* WiUiam McDougall, Outline of Psychologrj, chaps. V, XVII. Intro- 

duction to Social Psychology, esp. chaps. II, III, VI. Psychology 
(Home University Series). 

* William James, Psychology, Briefer Course, chaps. X, XXV. Prin- 

ciples of Psychology, II, IV, XXIV, XXV. 
G. F. Stout, Manual of Psychology. Analytic Psychology. 

* J. R. Angell, Introduction to Modern Psychology. 

* W. S. Hunter, General Psychology, Part I, chap. IV; Part II, chap. 

III. 
A. G. Tansley, The New Psychology. 

* John Dewey, Human Nature and Conduct, Part II. 

* T. De Laguna, Introduction to the Science of Ethics, chap. XV. 
A. F. Shand, Foundations of Character. 

Adam Smith, Theory of the Moral Sentiments. 

* C. L. Sherman, The Moral Self, chaps. II, III. 

Additional references are given in the Notes to this chapter. 



CHAPTER IX 
VIRTUES 

I. Virtues and Vices in General 

A person has as many sentiments as there are objects about 
which any of his impulses have become habitually organized. 
Whenever primitive men first came to recognize that some 
sentiment was a particularly good and praiseworthy trait of 
character to possess, the evolution of virtues began. The 
recognition of a virtue implies the beginning of self-con- 
sciousness and introspection, and the capacity to pass moral 
judgments on personal characteristics. Multitudinous as are 
the sentiments of different individuals, most of them fall into 
general types which can be recognized and classified as morally 
good, bad, or indifferent. The types which the moral con- 
sciousness of a society considers good are called virtues, and 
individuals feel under moral obligation to acquire them. Sen- 
timents that are strongly disapproved are known as vices. ^ 

All virtues are sentiments, and imply an habitual organiza- 
tion of impulses toward some object. Being sentiments, all 
virtues are acquired, and none are innate. Virtues are never 
attained without effort. While the more primitive virtues 
originated under kinship organization and group morality, no 
virtues are wholly unreflective. They all imply thoughtful 
recognition and appraisal of personal traits. However, with 
the advent of reflective morality and increased powers of crit- 
icism, it became possible to study the various types of character 
more thoroughly, so that virtues increased in number ar^d be- 
came richer in content. As Aristotle observed, many virtues 
imply a nice discrimination, called the ''golden mean", between 
two opposite tendencies, one excessive and the other defective, 

221 



222 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

known as vices. Cowardice and foolhardiness are vices, between 
which Hes the virtue of courage. Self-rehance is a virtue mid- 
way between boastfulness and excessive self-depreciation. The 
mean does not lie at the same point for every one, and cannot 
be calculated mathematically. Circumstances, responsibilities, 
talents, and opportunities differ. 

A virtue may be defined as a sentiment that effects the rational 
control of one or more -primary impulses in response to the demands 
of the whole self. Since the self is social, this means that a 
virtuous sentiment is consciously cultivated in response to the 
demands of the groups with which its possessor is identified, 
so that it brings him into harjnonious and cooperative relationship 
with society. 

Virtues, as has been said, are deliberately and reflectively 
cultivated. Through them a person realizes most fully his 
highest interests and capacities as an individual and as a mem- 
ber of society. On the contrary, no one ever deliberately 
cultivated what he at the time considered to be a vice, or sought 
to overcome what he believed to be a virtue. Vices are often 
habits into which impulses develop inadvertently, with such 
driving power that the individual finds it almost impossible to 
control them by the time that he realizes their true nature. An 
evil sentiment that has great driving power, because it consists 
of extremely powerful impulses, may come to dominate the 
character of the person. In such cases he is liable to be im- 
pervious to social criticism, and to deceive himself into believing 
that his ruling vice is a virtue. Thus the miser regards himself 
as a worthy man who is making prudent provision for his old 
age. A gossip imagines that she is performing a social service in 
spreading news that all ought to know. An obstinate man 
thinks that he is firmly standing by his principles, in fidelity 
to the dictates of his conscience. Others may condemn the 
selfish lust that prompts a man to invade the sanctity of an- 
other man's home, but the adulterer himself probably believes 
that he is manfully affirming the sublime rights of love in the 
face of artificial and imjust conventions. Men readily lielieve 



VIRTUES 223 

what they wish; so pseudo-rationalizations easily convince the 
wrong doer of his own integrity, and make his vices appear 
to him in the semblance of virtues. When vices are deliberately 
cultivated, it is in ignorance of their true nature. For instance, 
if a young man with great difficulty persists in acquiring the 
ability, and later the habit of drinking liquor to excess, in order 
to win the approval of a social set to which he aspires, he sup- 
poses that he is aiming at a praiseworthy accomplishment, — in 
other words a virtue. He thinks that it is only old-fashioned 
elderly people who fancy that drunkenness is a vice. No one is 
more foolish, unsophisticated, and addicted to pseudo-rationali- 
zations than the gilded youth who is sowing his wild oats. 

As an individual cannot make an entire moral consciousness 
for himself, he accepts as virtues the sentiments approved by 
his contemporaries, and seeks to acquire them. It is almost im- 
possible to find a good man in a thoroughly evil environment. 
The story of the righteous Lot in Sodom only becomes plausible 
because we are told that he was not a native of that city, but 
entered it with sentiments already acquired elsewhere. People 
in every age need to be morally reflective, at once appreciative 
and critical of the sentiments which they approve as virtues and 
condemn as vices. The individual should be reasonably sensi- 
tive to the moral evaluations of his character by those who 
know him best and are themselves men of integrity. Social 
groups should be responsive to the judgments passed on them 
by other groups. This applies to families, cities, clubs, colleges, 
churches, nations. Broadway and Main Street should mutually 
profit by each other's appraisal; endowed colleges and state 
universities have different virtues and vices; Catholicism, 
Judaism, and Protestantism each has its own peculiar merits 
and limitations; the United States of America can learn much 
from European and Asiatic commendations and criticisms. A 
generation or a century may well inquire how other ages, past 
and future, would evaluate its character. Have we really 
advanced in our moral sentiments beyond the Victorians, at 
whom it has become more or less the fashion to smile or to 



224 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

sneer? And what would Pericles or Socrates think of us? How 
would Confucius, Buddha, Jesus, and Mohammed evaluate us? 
Would Washington, Madison, Hamilton, Marshall, and Lincoln 
be pleased with what we have made of the federal republic 
inherited from them? And what will the closing decades of 
the twentieth century think of us? 

II. Objectivity of the Virtues 

Are the virtues subjective and transitory, or are they objec- 
tive and permanent? It is evident that the moral judgments 
of no individual nor group of individuals, nor even the prevail- 
ing opinions of any generation of mankind are infallible. How 
then can we determine what really are virtues? Or must we 
simply say that virtues are what the individual, or his group, 
or his epoch, believes them to be, and that no further objec- 
tivity can be sought? Well, none of us possesses divine omnis- 
cience, and can define and delimit the virtues for all time and 
eternity. However, it does not follow that the virtues, as the 
moral philosopher describes them, are entirely subjective and 
transient. In Part I, the course of social and moral evolution 
was indicated in a very general way. We have now reached the 
relation of Citizenship and reflective morality. In the preceding 
chapter were listed the principal primary impulses that have 
thus far played the chief role in human conduct. If these 
primary impulses are indeed instincts, they cannot greatly 
change unless man were to evolve into a new species. Even if 
they are habits, they will not change rapidly. Some of these 
impulses, like pugnacity, fear, sex, and self-assertion, in many 
circumstances prove too vehement and unruly for the condi- 
tions of life under Citizenship. They must be governed by 
sentiments so that their driving force can be kept within individ- 
ually and socially useful channels. Others, like the social, 
constructive, and acquisitive impulses, in the majority of per- 
sons need stimulation and incitement through sentiments that 
will urge them into greater activity. Some impulses are ordi- 
narily neither too intense nor too weak, but need training, to 



VIRTUES 225 

keep them from developing into improper sentiments. Left to 
itself, curiosity may develop into vicious sentiments of prying 
meddlesomeness and gossip, instead of virtuous habits of 
thoughtfulness and observation, and the pursuit of theoretical 
knowledge and practical wisdom. 

So long as associated life shall retain any form analogous to 
Citizenship, and so long as the principal primary impulses re- 
main as they practically have been since the beginnings of re- 
corded history, the virtues which men ought to acquire cannot 
become greatly different from those outlined by the moral 
philosophers of our own and preceding ages. To be sure, 
experience will reveal new modifications in details, as condi- 
tions change; but the Cardinal Virtues in most of their prom- 
inent features will persist. In this sense it can be said that the 
Cardinal Virtues are permanent and objective.^ 

III. Cardinal Virtues 

Lists of the cardinal, or more important virtues, vary some- 
what. Most moral philosophers, though, have agreed upon 
what are the desirable forms of conduct, and the chief difference 
has merely been under how many heads they have thought it 
convenient to enumerate them. The virtues overlap, and no 
rigorously logical classification seems possible. However, addi- 
tional light is thrown upon their number and character, when 
they are interpreted as rational and socially approved senti- 
ments that regulate the expression of the principal primary 
impulses. Here we shall notice some of the more important 
and more generally recognized virtues, and their constituent 
impulses. Each virtue is theoretically consistent with the 
others. Perfect possession of any virtue would mean inclusion 
of all, in a completely unified and coherent personality. That 
is, however, only a theoretical ideal. As a matter of fact, no 
individual manifests complete integration of all the virtues and 
entire freedom from any vice. 

Those men whom the world has most esteemed for goodness 
have possessed all the virtues, though each has been noteworthy 



226 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

for superiority in one or more specific virtues. Socrates, Plato, 
and Aristotle, each in a somewhat different sense, was wise. 
Amos and Isaiah I. possessed high moral courage. Ezekiel was 
reverent. Ezra understood justice, and set forth the Law. 
Jesus and Paul loved all mankind. Marcus Aurelius was con- 
scientious. Yet all of these men possessed all the virtues in 
an eminent degree. On the other hand, many great men have 
been esteemed for their excellence in certain virtues, although 
they were conspicuously lacking in others. Francis Bacon, 
Voltaire, Napoleon, Goethe, and Bismarck would serve as 
examples of very great men to whom the world owes much, but 
whom few would be disposed to call good men. Even certain 
great and thoroughly righteous men, like Gladstone and Wood- 
row Wilson, seem in some way lacking; few would be disposed 
to place them on a moral plane with, say, Abraham Lincoln.^ 

1. Courage 

Perhaps the first virtue that primitive man learned to recog- 
nize was Courage. This seems to have been the original sig- 
nificance of the Greek and Latin words for virtue (arete, virtus). 
In battle and on the hunt a man must be daring, venturesome, 
and persistent. He must subdue his fears. The man who 
habitually excelled in these respects became a leader and a 
hero. Others emulated him. As men became introspective, 
these qualities of the leader who was foremost in danger were 
carefully discriminated, and known as "virtue". Later, when 
other mental traits also were commended, this first of the vir- 
tues received the specific designation of "courage". In its 
simplest psychological form, courage is the habit or sentiment 
in which the pugnacious impulse overcomes that of flight or 
fear. A man sticks and fights even if he would fain run away 
and hide. 

In its later developments this virtue has become more com- 
plex. Physical courage — the daring of the soldier, the athlete, 
the explorer, and the aviator — continues to be commended. 
Moral courag(> is the pugnacious attitude of the man who stands 



VIRTUES 227 

for what he beheves to be right in the face, not so much of 
physical danger as of moral opposition, — abuse, ridicule, slander, 
and social persecution of all kinds. The psychology in both 
types of courage is the same up to a certain point; in each, 
pugnacity overcomes impulses to retreat. But the objects of 
opposition and the modes of defense in the one type are directly 
and overtly physical and muscular, and in the other more re- 
flectively moral and social. As a rule, the boy who acquires 
physical courage in his plays and games will not be found want- 
ing in moral courage, while the boy who is afraid to fight a 
bully on the playground will be morally a coward in later life. 
However, there are exceptions. Billy Brown, let us suppose, is 
a universal favorite at school because of his daring successes on 
the ski jump. Timothy Smith is generally regarded with indif- 
ference, because he is physically weak and unprepossessing, and 
at the slightest provocation his knees shake and his teeth 
chatter. Which of the two would be the more likely to prove a 
moral hero, should he ever be called upon to stand by what he 
believed to be right, at the cost of general ridicule and possible 
ostracism? We should on first thought guess in favor of Billy, 
but he has been the best liked boy in his group, and has never 
known what it is to endure unpopularity. He might lose his 
nerve at the prospect. Poor Timothy, who has never known 
what it is to be liked, might prove the braver in a moral crisis. 
Fear is usually most intense in facing dangers unencountered 
in the past and so never withstood; hardships greater only in 
degree to those we have endured before are less formidable. 

The two vices, between which the virtue of courage is the 
rational mean, are foolhardiness and cowardice. It is fool- 
hardy and vicious to take unnecessary risks for causes that are 
of little consequence. Nor is it courageous to be fearless be- 
cause ignorant of the existence and nature of danger, or be- 
cause angry and provoked enough to be reckless. On the con- 
trary, courage implies full knowledge and fear of dangers, and 
prudent provision to avert them. "Thus he who faces and 
fears the right things for the right motive and in the right way 



228 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

and at the right time, and whose confidence is similarly right, 
is courageous; for the courageous man in his emotions and ac- 
tions has a sense of fitness and obeys the law of reason". * The 
virtue of Courage in all cases is a rational balancing or coordina- 
tion between the conflicting impulses of pugnacity and fear, 
neither of which should be allowed wholly to dominate. It is 
enlisted in behalf of some cause in which a person is and ought 
to be interested and ready to contend. Such a cause obviously 
appeals to other impulses, — social, sex, parental, self, acquisi- 
tive, constructive, or what not — else a person would not be 
interested in it. So the exercise of this virtue implies a coordina- 
tion of other impulses in union with the central two. 

If courage is really good and a virtue, it is emploj^ed in loyalty 
to, and with respect for, causes and persons that are just and 
benevolent; the means employed are wise, temperate, and econo7n- 
ically practical; and no other persons, causes, ends, values, 
or interests that ought to be taken into account have been over- 
looked. The courageous action, in other words, is an expression 
of all the virtues, in the interests of the whole self of the individ- 
ual and the common good of society. Or, if this is not literally 
true, the action is at least the closest approximation to this 
ideal that is humanly possible in the given circumstances. 

2. Honor 

In its earliest form, Honor was probablj^ simply the virtue 
of Courage with the added impulse of self-assertion. The war- 
rior felt it a duty to be courageous on all occasions; to fail to be 
so would have contradicted his ideal of himself as he wished to 
be, and wished others to regard him. He must ever maintain 
manfully his rights, and resent any personal affront ; by combat 
when necessary. With further rationalization and socializa- 
tion, this type of honor includes due regard for the rights and 
dignities of others, — a qualification that implies negative self- 
feeling or deference to superiors, mutual respect for equals, 
and sympathy for all, including consideration for inferiors who 
ought not to be humiliated. 



VIRTUES 229 

Honor early came to be a virtue also expected of woman. 
In her case it was preceded by the virtue of chastity, — a control 
of sex impulses in accordance with the mores. The unchaste 
woman lacked the virtue expected of her, and therefore lost her 
honor. The conduct of an unfaithful wife was a stigma upon 
her husband's honor; it seemed to imply that he lacked courage 
in maintaining his conjugal rights. He could only remove the 
stain by inflicting vengeance upon her seducer. This explains 
the psychology of the duel in such cases; it was a rationalized 
means of vindicating a man's honor by the demonstration of 
his courage. Even if the mores of the times had given a wife 
the moral right to expect her husband to be faithful, which 
was not the case in Europe in this stage of moral develop- 
ment, his infidelity would not have been regarded as a 
stain upon her honor, as a woman could not be expected to 
fight. 

The virtue of honor, in those in whom it has become well 
established, probably exerts the strongest impulsive strength 
of all the cardinal virtues. To appeal to the honor of an individ- 
ual, a family, a labor union, or a nation is to evoke powerful 
emotional responses in the self impulses and the self-regarding 
sentiment. Everybody wishes to be able to respect himself, 
and to be respected by others. Workingmen and their unions 
take pride in keeping their agreements, and conducting their 
work as craftmen in a business like manner. If employers can 
learn how to give their various kinds of workers just and pro- 
portionate recognition for their different services, and a reason- 
able voice in the conduct of their work, the men will gain in- 
creased self-respect and a higher sense of honor. ^ 

College students have been known to respond marvelously 
to responsibility intrusted to them and appeals made to their 
honor. Student self-governing councils often prove efficacious 
in removing abuses with which faculty committees havp been 
unable to cope. The whole moral tone of the students of a col- 
lege is heightened as they acquire the virtue of honor in their 
collective capacity. In no way can colleges more surely develop 



230 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

the characters of their students than through successful "honor 
systems" apphed to the various details of student conduct. 
A faculty cannot, however, impose an honor system on a stu- 
dent body that does not wish it. A common college conscious- 
ness and collective self-respect must develop to lead students 
to desire an honor system, or become capable of using it. How- 
ever, it would seem that whenever students have a strong 
enough collective consciousness to desire athletic victories 
ardently, and to feel deep chagrin at athletic defeats, they 
ought to be capable of developing a collective moral conscious- 
ness and a sense of honor. 

Marvelous progress has been achieved in the reformation of 
hardened criminals through honor systems. A criminal is an 
offender who has proved lacking in his sense of social respon- 
sibility. If, during a period of imprisonment, it proves possible 
to awaken in him an appreciation of his social responsibilities, 
self-respect, and a sense of honor, his character will largely be 
reformed, and he will leave prison with the steadfast determina- 
tion of becoming a good citizen. Thomas Mott Osborne and 
others have shown that to a large extent it is practicable to 
put the inmates of a prison on their honor in their collective 
capacity, so that the lack of good faith on the part of any 
individual (e.g., in the abuse of privileges given to the body as 
a whole), will be generally felt to reflect on the honor of the 
whole group. Under such circumstances a high degree of moral 
responsibihty and trustworthiness often develops in a class of 
human beings among whom such a development would seem 
least possible.^ 

The virtue of honor to-day no longer demands that an individ- 
ual man involve himself in physical combats to show that he is 
courageous in maintaining his rights. Personal fights are hon- 
orable only in frontier communities, and the latter no longer 
exist in the United States. Dueling has long since become 
extinct in Anglo-Saxon countries, and is on the wane every- 
where. As courts of law have developed, men have learned 
that it is no reflection on their honor to bring their disputes 



VIRTUES 231 

before them, and have them adjudicated in accordance with 
the principles of justice and equity. To refuse to do so rather 
arouses the suspicion that a man has not acted honorably, and 
is unwilling to have his conduct subjected to an impartial 
investigation. However, a man who does not, in matters of 
consequence, defend his good name, property, and other just 
rights, in courts of law and by other socially approved measures, 
is still regarded as lacking both in courage and in honor. He 
fails in his duty to himself and to society. 

3. Temperance 

Temperance, as conceived by moral philosophers, in accord- 
ance with its Greek and Latin equivalents (sophrosyne, temper- 
antia) might more properly be denominated "self-control". 
It means the rational control of all impulses, especially of the 
more vehement and unruly ones, in the interests of the whole 
self and the social good. Certain instinctive impulses with a 
massive bodily basis, known as appetites, like hunger and sex, 
were probably the first to be controlled. Among savages, the 
consumption of food takes place at regular times, usually at a 
social meal, in accordance with a rude etiquette; and often, as 
among the early Semites, it has been regarded as a sacred act. 
The custom of saying grace at meals is a survival of this view. 
Greedy manners at table have always been regarded with dis- 
gust, and moderation thought merely decent. Gratification of 
sex impulses has never been left wholly to the caprice of individ- 
uals, but has always been subjected to strict regulation in 
order to promote what was believed to be the ultimate good of 
individuals and of the group. Other vehement impulses have 
often been subjected to conventions. In all ages, every one 
has been expected to keep his temper and to restrain his self- 
assertiveness within the limits of good manners. Etiquette 
sometimes seems to us artificial; however, its underlying aim 
is social; due respect for others as well as for oneself. Such 
respect requires self-control, the suppression of all contrary and 
inappropriate impulses. 



232 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

The more vehement impulses are, and the more dangerous 
if unregulated, the more important become the conventions, 
customs, and laws by which society attempts to induce in- 
dividuals to cultivate the virtue of temperance. 

In our own time rude and vulgar displays of the impulses of 
food, temper, and self-assertiveness are well controlled by pub- 
lic opinion. Our chief problems to-day are connected with sex 
and alcohol. Sex can be more conveniently referred to Chapter 
XVIII, with the simple observation here that conventions in 
this connection should not be despised. While they have 
naturally varied somewhat from one generation to another, as 
social conditions change, conventions of some kind have always 
proved necessary. The young and inexperienced, at the age 
when passions are violent, need to be protected from irrepa- 
rable harm to themselves. Those who refuse to respect such 
conventions must in extreme cases find themselves punished 
by social disapproval and even ostracism. 

The use of alcohol in early times performed a social service 
in promoting good will on festal occasions, and it furthered 
group loyalty. This remained the situation among primitive 
peoples down to our own times, so long as they were confined 
to beverages of their own manufacture, usually not verj^ power- 
ful, and scanty in amount. The complete demoralization of 
native races resulting from the plentiful supply of spirits by 
white men has been swift and terrible. Among civilized races, 
the moderate consumption of alcoholic drinks has been of 
service in affording relaxation, in promoting sociability and 
good will, and in brightening life under conditions otherwise 
dull and drab. It is significant that the use of wine has been 
sacramental in various religions, — the heightened conscious- 
ness and conviviality induced by the common cup being thought 
promotive of a higher life. However, even under the most 
favorable conditions, alcoholic indulgence often led to deplor- 
able consequences. 

In our own time the majority of the thoughtful are every- 
where coming to the conclusion that the practice should be 



VIRTUES 233 

abandoned. Safer modes of relaxation and conviviality are 
now available. In the strain of modern life every one needs to 
be at his best. Even extremely moderate drinking, — a liter of 
beer or a few glasses of wine in a day — has been shown exper- 
imentally to reduce mental accuracy and other forms of effi- 
ciency, and to be liable to produce bad physiological effects, 
including diminished resistance to disease. And in modern 
conditions, at least in America, moderate drinking has become 
increasingly rare. Our unusually stimulating climate, subject 
to greater extremes of heat and cold and more sudden shifts 
from day to day in all seasons than most of Europe, is probably 
less conducive to the moderate consumption of alcoholic drinks. 
Our liquor traffic, highly commercialized in the days of the 
bootlegger even more than in those of the saloon, has done its 
best to increase profits by tempting patrons to excessive drink- 
ing. It has also been prone to alliances with those gainfully 
interested in the exploitation of other vices like prostitution 
and gambling. The fact that alcoholic indulgence removes 
normal inhibitions, stimulates sexual appetite, and makes men 
reckless, has rendered this kind of alliance natural enough. 
The liquor traffic, too, in our country has for generations been 
allied with corruption in politics, — both as regards officeholders 
and voters — and with the promotion and protection of criminal 
activities of every kind. 

The chief danger of alcohol lies in the fact that it is a habit 
producing drug that rapidly and insidiously creates in many 
of its consumers an inveterate craving of which they are or- 
dinarily unaware until it has become virtually uncontrollable 
by themselves and often incurable by the best medical treat- 
ment. The news of college alumni is confined to the activities 
of the virtuous and successful, so that nobody knows how many 
of them ultimately go to physical and moral ruin as the result 
of habits of drinking and "going down the line" acquired while 
undergraduates — vices that grow on them in after years and 
make them objects of worry and often shame and sorrow to 
their relatives and friends. The habitual and even the periodi- 



234 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

cal drunkard often becomes a victim of general mental and 
moral degeneration, and his early death is a profound relief to 
all interested in him. Young men go to college under the sup- 
position that an education will increase their chances for suc- 
cess in after Hfe. Why do a few of them while in college run 
the risk of acquiring vices liable to render them many times 
more harm than a college education could possibly benefit 
them! 

It needs to be pointed out that temperance, Hke all other 
virtues, is a sentiment that can only be acquired by individuals 
of their own free will and intelligent choice. Conventions and 
laws can force no one to be virtuous. What public opinion and 
legislation can do is, first, to arrange social conditions so that 
virtues will appear attractive, and vices as little tempting as 
possible; and, secondly, by education to make clear to all that 
the cultivation of virtues and avoidance of vices lead to the 
largest satisfactions to individuals, and promote the general 
good. None cultivate vices knowing them to be such, and few 
will be misled if commercialized agencies for the exploitation 
of vices are not permitted to trap the unwary. The substitu- 
tion of attractive and morally wholesome means of recreation 
accessible to all classes in the community greatly avails to pre- 
vent dives, dance halls, gambling dens, and other haunts of 
vice from alluring those who have not already become vicious. 
The activities of social settlements, institutional churches, 
municipal playgrounds, community centers, and like agencies, 
do valuable constructive work along these fines. The details 
of such work belong rather within the domain of the sociologist 
than of the moral philosopher. The latter, however, insists 
that while legal and social agencies are bound to fail so far as 
they attempt to compel people to be temperate as regards sex, 
alcohol, or gambling, they are right in attempting to educate 
people to judge rightly what is virtuous and what is not, to 
prevent the commercialization of every vice, and to provide 
means of amusement that will be favorable to the acquisition 
of virtues and avoidance of vices." 



VIRTUES 235 



4. Justice 



Plato and many others have regarded Justice as the one all 
inclusive virtue both for the individual and for the social order. 
Understood in this broad sense, this entire chapter is an exposi- 
tion of justice for the individual, while Part IV treats of justice 
for the social order. In the narrower and more specific sense, 
Justice, for the individual, connotes fairness and equity in all 
of a 'person's dealings with others, in accordance with the princi- 
ples established by law and custom. 

Justice is rendering to every one his due. It implies impar- 
tiality in the treatment of others, — both conscientious fulfil- 
ment of obligations, and appreciation of services rendered to 
oneself. The just man always carries out his legal obligations, 
as well as the moral obligations that custom, good faith, and 
fairness lead others to expect of him. His word is always as 
good as his bond. He is ever reliable. He never fails to keep 
his promises, which he does not make lightly. His statement 
of facts is always accurate. He imputes motives to people care- 
fully and correctly, never giving undue praise or blame ; and he 
considers all aspects of a situation before he renders his opinion. 
He is equally candid and impartial in his evaluation of his own 
conduct, claiming credit for his own deserts in a modest way, 
and avoiding exaggeration. He is the foursquare man whom 
all know how to appraise. If he possesses wisdom commensurate 
with his justice, he is a man in whom all place implicit confi- 
dence, and to whom they come to seek advice, and to arbitrate 
their disputes. 

The impulsive basis of Justice is complex. It may have 
originated with the need of effecting a proper balance between 
resentment and the social impulse in the attitude to be taken 
toward those who had offended tribal custom. A has wronged 
B, and B is angry and seeks vengeance. The other members of 
the group sympathize with B, and are angry at A and desire 
his punishment. At the same time, A is a fellow tribesman with 
whom they feel social ties, and they do not want A punished 



236 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

out of proportion to his deserts. Such a balancing between the 
two impulses is moral indignation, and is the root of punitive 
justice.^ To feel moral indignation and not unrestrained rage 
when a wrong has been done to a person became a virtue which 
it was the duty of all to cultivate in the interest of general good 
will. Another way in which the sentiment of justice early took 
root was the problem of effecting such a distribution of goods 
captured in the chase or in war, that each would receive his 
fair proportion. Here the impulses to be coordinated were the 
acquisitive and social impulses. Or the problem may have 
been to give each individual hunter or warrior due praise and 
blame for his conduct; if so, the impulses of self-assertion, self- 
abasement, and the social impulse were chiefly involved. It 
will be observed that the problems mentioned all have to do 
with the rudiments of social or political justice, rather than 
with the conduct of the individual. Probably the conception 
of the individually just man is a later derivation from earlier 
established customs defining social relationships. The latter 
originated first. When increased individualization ensued, and 
persons became more self-conscious, it became every person's 
duty to acquire sentiments in harmony with the spirit under- 
lying the customs of the group. 

Justice arose in larger social groups than the family and the 
circles of close friendship. It is the basis of the more impersonal 
relations that we have with all who are not more closely bound 
to us in ties of affection. To be sure, even among friends and 
relatives this virtue has its place. The parent must be just and 
impartial in his treatment of his children. But it is with those 
with whom we have more impersonal relationships that justice 
is the virtue of chief importance. Laboring men, for instance, 
who are working for a large corporation wish to be treated 
justly by it; they neither love the stockholders nor expect to 
be loved by them. Any self-respecting man, as a matter of 
justice, wishes his deserts to be recognized ; it is only in cases of 
dire misfortune that he seeks for charity or benevolence. 

Since justice is the virtue that connotes what our sentiments 



VIRTUES 237 

should be to most of mankind in most of our relationships, it is 
in many respects the most important of all the virtues. In their 
moral aspects it is the basis of law and government, and of the 
economic order. In a just social order all men will prosper in 
accordance with their talents and efforts; in an unjust social 
order few will prosper materially, and none can gain well 
balanced characters so as to enjoy true happiness or attain the 
highest virtues. A just social order is possible only if individual 
citizens are just, and vice versa.^ 

5. Love 

An individual has as many sentiments of love as there are 
objects toward which he has habitually become attracted 
through impulses of tenderness, sociability, or sex. Sexual 
love in its highest form of romantic love includes tender emotion, 
subjection, self-assertion, sex, pugnacity, acquisition, and other 
impulses all sublimated and united in complex emotions and 
sentiments of admiration for the beloved, — pride at having 
won her favor, humility at one's own unworthiness, loyalty to 
her, courage in her service, and the like. Only the poets and 
writers of romances can adequately portray the beauty and 
comprehensiveness of this sentiment, one of the chief influences 
that has led men and women to their finest achievements and 
afforded them the greatest happiness in life. 

Hardly less intense in most fathers and more intense in most 
mothers is love for their own children. To whatever extent 
maternal tenderness originates as an instinct, under ordinary 
conditions it soon becomes and remains the ruling passion in 
the life of a mother while her children are small and dependent 
upon her, and it normally receives little abatement throughout 
life. A man ordinarily loses the best friend of his life at the 
death bed of his mother. Second only to the mother's love of 
her children, and to the father's love of her, is his love of their 
children. The impulsive basis of a father's love for his children 
is likely to be his original love for their mother, which leads 
him to love the children whom she has borne him. 



238 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

The love of children for their parents combines impulsive ten- 
derness with feelings of dependence and gratitude, sociability, 
and comradeship. It might well contain more of the impulse 
of submission and the complex emotions and sentiments of awe, 
respect, and obedience than it commonly does in twentieth 
century America, although no one desires that our children 
should literally carry out all of the precepts of Confucius and 
Mencius. The generation responsible for the Great War can 
make no large pretense of wisdom, and perhaps deservedly finds 
its children lacking in filial awe and veneration. It can only 
hope that the generation of the present "youth movement" 
will prove wiser when it reaches maturity, and be more able 
in its turn to maintain parental authority and prestige. 

Within home and family the finest sentiments of love ordi- 
narily develop. Next in importance are the friendships formed 
with other individuals. To the profound commentary of 
Aristotle on Friendship it is possible to add little of conse- 
quence.^" The social impulse is the original one, and is com- 
bined in different proportions in different cases with the self 
impulses and various of the others, and with the sentiments, 
ideals, and aspirations that friends share in common. Friend- 
ships are virtuous when friends are cooperating for purposes 
that are good, and each is unselfishly finding joy in common 
undertakings. A friendship in which each friend finds delight 
in the other's companionship, and help from sharing his deepest 
confidences, is morally better than one in which each is in a 
more self-conscious manner attempting to "do good" to the 
other. People ordinarilj^ do not wish others to come to see 
them with the purpose of "doing good" to them, and friend- 
ships of the highest order do not ordinarily come about in that 
way. 

One of the chief contributions of Christianity to our modern 
moral development was in the widening and deepening of the 
virtue of Love in its application to mankind in general, as char- 
ity, love of neighbor, benevolence, and altruism. (See Chapter 
VI, above.) We ought to feel toward all mankind somewhat of 



VIRTUES 239 

the sentiment that we feel to the members of our family and to 
our close personal friends. We ought to be ready and willing to 
render services within our power to any one in need of them. 
Envy, jealousy, and ill will leading to strife, fights, strikes, 
lockouts, and wars between individuals, groups, and nations 
would cease, if we could learn to love our neighbors as ourselves, 
and to consider all mankind our neighbors. But it would not 
be ethical for a person to feel and act from a sentiment of love 
to all mankind in the same ways that he does toward his own 
wife and children. It would hardly be right, in order to con- 
tribute money to save Asiatic children from dying of starva- 
tion for him to deny his own children the chance of a high 
school education. Excess of altruism toward strangers at the 
cost of service to those bound to us by immediate ties of love is 
too rare a vice, however, to require much comment. We more 
often fail in not loving sufficiently those with whom we have 
no personal contact. Excessive affection toward children, and 
near friends, spoiling them by unappreciated sacrifices that 
they take for granted and do not need, is a more common vice 
than is usually realized. To make children inconsiderate, self- 
ish, and lacking in initiative and self-reliance is not virtuous 
love for them. The negative rule here holds, that it is never 
virtuous to render services to others that it is not virtuous for 
the others to receive. A similar remark applies to charity. To 
pauperize the poor through humiliating forms of patronage 
that deprive them of self-respect and initiative is not the virtue 
of charity. ^^ 

The relationship between the virtues of Justice and Love 
might be expressed in this way. Justice, a pagan virtue recog- 
nized by Plato and Aristotle and their contemporaries, consists 
in rendering to others in fairness and equity what society has 
found in its experience to make for the general good in the long 
run, and so has embodied in law and custom. Love of neighbor, 
charity, benevolence, altruism, or whatever it may best be 
called, is an added Jewish and Christian virtue that urges us 
to feel tenderness and comradeship to all mankind, and to 



240 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

render to them more than justice demands. Just how much 
more cannot easily be defined, so love of neighbor has been 
called a virtue of "indeterminate obligation", as opposed to 
justice, which is of "determinate obligation". It is clear that 
there is a margin beyond the limits of definable justice over 
which altruism should extend, and that both within the range 
of justice and within the margin a feeling of tenderness ought 
to be applied toward all mankind. It is never right, however, 
to be benevolent to some at the cost of being unjust to others. 
Robin Hood and St. Crispin were not virtuous in stealing from 
the rich in order to benefit the poor;^^ nor are modern radicals 
right in advocating dishonest expropriation of the wealthy in 
order to ameliorate the condition of the masses. In an ideal 
social order justice and benevolence would become identical. 
And in progress toward such an order, requests that previously 
in a vague way might be advanced in the name of benevolence 
or charity are becoming more precisely defined and assuming 
the form of justice. Public provision for the deserving poor 
has already passed within the domain of justice and taken the 
place of indiscriminate almsgiving in the name of charity. 
Pensions for the old and helpless, and the widowed mother, 
and insurance for workers against sickness, serious accidents, 
and involuntary unemployment are rapidly passing within the 
domain of determinate justice. ^^ 

6. Loyalty 

On the whole it is convenient to distinguish between love 
and loyalty, and make of them separate virtues, although in 
ordinary language they rather overlap. When distinguished, 
Love is said to be felt toward individuals, and Loyalty toward 
groups. A man loves each separate member of his family as an 
individual; he is loyal to his family as a social unit, and to each 
member of it because of his membership in it. Powerful cer- 
tainly are the sentiments that bind a man to the social groups 
with which he identifies himself — his immediate family, totem, 
and clan in the case of the primitive man; his family, church, 



VIRTUES 241 

city, college, fraternities, profession, and nation in the case of 
the civilized man. The basic impulses in his sentiment for 
his family include tender emotion and sex. The self impulses, 
too, are here strongly operative ; his self-assertion is strengthened 
by emotions of pride, and his self-abasement by humiliation at 
the behavior of his family as a whole. Other groups evoke 
analogous sentiments; the social impulse, however, taking the 
place of the parental and sex impulses. Each group to some 
extent has its own mores; each makes its own demands; and 
a man joyfully serves each of his groups and feels pride if com- 
mended, and shame and sorrow if condemned, by any of them. 

The virtue of Loyalty is the rational control and organization 
of the sentiments felt toward the different groups with which a per- 
son is identified. Theoretically, the sentiments felt toward each 
of these groups should complement those felt toward the others, 
and in no way conflict with them. A man's loyalty to home and 
family should lead him to be loyal to the city, "state", and na- 
tion which sustain and protect his family life; as he serves each 
larger group he should be serving and doing honor to the smaller 
ones. The same is true of other groups of a different character, 
— like his profession and his religion. Obviously in our imper- 
fect society, loyalties often seem to conflict. Can a man best 
serve his family by laying down his life for his country? Can 
he best serve his college by vigorously denouncing and expos- 
ing to the world its faults? Ought he to defend his profession 
unqualifiedly, because he believes it mainly right, even though 
on a particular issue he knows it to be wrong? 

However, it has probably become the fashion to exaggerate 
the frequency of such instances. In many cases, the best heri- 
tage a patriot could leave his sons would be the memory of his 
supreme sacrifice in the cause of their country, — to make it a 
better place for them to live in. The best service to a college in 
the long run may well be a frank exposure of its faults t,o the 
public. The members of no profession can realize their own best 
good so long as they remain blind to their faults. Service of no 
group is likely to conflict with service of other groups in ways in 



242 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

which they have rightful claims upon one. Love of one's beloved 
can never conflict with love of truth and honor; love of God and 
country imply love of humanity ; loyalty to any cause is moral 
provided only it is in harmony with loyalty to larger and more 
inclusive causes. So, if we define Loyalty as a virtue, this vir- 
tue tends to embrace in a common and coherent whole all the 
sentiments by which an individual is attached to different 
groups. So far as these sentiments seriously conflict with one 
another, they are not virtuous, and are not Loyalty. ^* 

7. Economy 

The sentiment which prompts to the acquisition of private 
property is old in the human race. It is not wholly lacking even 
in the primitive horde, although it does not gain full force until 
private ownership of large property — cattle or land — first 
becomes established. Besides acquisitiveness the sentiment in- 
cludes the following impulses: — constructiveness; fear of future 
need and consequent desire for security; self-assertion (because 
of the expression of personality that property makes possible, 
coupled with the satisfaction at the respect which its acquisition 
and successful management give the possessor) ; the family im- 
pulses (leading one to desire to provide for wife and children); 
and pugnacity (because of the competition and rivalry of 
economic activities). 

No sentiment needs more careful criticism in order to assure 
its becoming a virtue. Those successful in the accumulation 
of wealth are liable to be addicted to greed, avarice, dishonesty, 
cruelty, selfishness, arrogance, and lack of refined appreciation 
for culture of no obvious economic worth. The poor are in dan- 
ger of becoming victims of the vices of jealousy, lack of self- 
reliance and self-respect, discontent, toadying to the rich, and 
failure to appreciate the simpler joys that are available to every 
one. 

Economy as an individual virtue implies rational control 
of the sentiment prompting to the acquisition and care of property, 
and the expenditure of income. The individual should so use his 



VIRTUES 243 

property that it will enrich his own life in all the best ways, and at 
the same time be of service to the social order. The economical 
person is a benefactor to society. His capital makes possible 
the employment of others who would be less profitably occupied 
if it were not available. It facilitates the production of goods 
that enrich the lives of consumers. The total amount of the 
national income, — even in the richest countries of the world, 
no matter how equitably it were divided, would not at present 
be sufficient to enable all to enjoy the comforts that modern 
civilization ought to make available to every one. The more 
the total capital in existence can be increased, other things 
equal, the larger will be the opportunities afforded to every one. 
Whoever at the present time saves part of his income and 
invests it in ways that are socially productive is therefore ren- 
dering a public service. 

More persons in America are now able to save than ever 
before. Whoever does so is developing in himself thrift, self- 
control, and foresight; he is gaining firmness and consistency 
in his character, and becoming a man of strength and integrity. 
There was a certain truth (although of course exaggerated) in 
the identification of "the rich, the wise and the good" by the 
Federalists in the earlier decades of our republic, in a period 
of large and undeveloped resources when the accumulation of 
property was possible to all who were industrious and provident. 
To-day such opportunities in a different way have again become 
accessible to large numbers of our people in consequence of un- 
precedented high wages, and the availability of good securities 
to all savers who seek the advice of reliable investment bankers. 
The time is not far distant when it will be a mark of moral weak- 
ness for any American in good health, with fair natural abilities, 
and free from unusual misfortunes, not to be an accumulator of 
at least a modest amount of capital. 

Economy as a virtue refers not only to the accumulation 
and care of capital, but to the wise expenditure of income. The 
economical man knows how to spend money so that it will 
afford to him and others the largest satisfactions. He provides 



244 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

for the necessities of life before the luxuries, and shows good 
taste in clothes, books, furniture, amusements, works of art, 
and all his expenditures. He inspires emulation in others to 
select what is both useful and beautiful. He divides his time 
rationally into hours of work, rest, and refined leisure — a feat 
possible on different scales for those with modest as well as large 
incomes. He is generous, too, in his benevolences. Economy 
in benevolences does not mean small gifts, but it does mean 
that the giver sees that his benefactions become of the greatest 
possible service to worthy causes and to the type of persons for 
whom they are intended. 

The importance of the virtue of Economy in our modern 
capitalistic and largely industrial society can scarcely be over- 
stated. Unless wealth exists in large quantities and is wisely 
employed, the comforts of life cannot be enjoyed by the many, 
much less secondary and higher education and the larger and 
richer cultural life that they afford. Aristotle was wrong in 
fancying that the poor man of his own time could not be vir- 
tuous. But even to-day the full development of life in all its 
possibilities is hardly open to those who are not able to enjoy 
moderate incomes. The opportunity for every one to make the 
most of his life is increased to the extent that all persevere in the 
accumulation of incomes and in the expenditure of them in ways 
that increase general appreciation of useful and well made com- 
modities, genuine art and music, good literature, beautiful archi- 
tecture, and all expressions of clear thinking and high Hving.^^ 

8. Wisdom 

The conscientious man carefully weighs ends and means, 
compares values, and ever seeks to do that which will promote the 
most good. The wise man habitually does all this successfully. 
Conscientiousness is wisdom in the making; wisdom is con- 
scientiousness achieved. Every one can rightfully be expected 
to be conscientious; only experience, talent, and long persever- 
ance render anyone wise. However, every one can learn to be 
docile, to realize his own limitations, and to seek the counsel of 



VIRTUES 245 

the wise. And most people are intelligent enough to learn who 
are wise and competent. Plato realized that only a few are wise; 
he thought that if these could rule and all obey their behests, 
all would act wisely. In a modern democracy, there is faith that 
the voters, most of whom are not very wise, will be guided by 
the judgment of those whom they know to be wise, and accord- 
ingly vote for the best men and the best solutions of issues. 
How far this faith is justified, the reader may well consider. 

Conscientiousness implies intellectual integrity. No one can 
progress on the path to wisdom who does not look facts squarely 
in the face and recognize them for what they are, declining to 
confuse them with his own wishes or ideals. Men should have 
aspirations and ideals of course; and they should learn how to 
realize them. But it is sheer intellectual dishonesty to assume 
that anything is practicable just because its attainment would 
be a desirable ideal. Religion especially in our time is suffering 
from obscurantism in the confusion between ideals and realities. 
To observe frankly and to think consistently are essential. So 
far as a college really teaches its students to do so, it can truth- 
fully claim to be successful in the upbuilding of character. For 
most wrongdoing implies self-deception. The man who lies or 
cheats or is slothful or self-indulgent is dishonest with himself, 
and does not frankly call his acts by their right names, even to 
himself. To spend a short time every day in meditation, 
honestly taking account of one's own moral attainments and 
deficiencies is highly to be recommended. To know oneself is 
to make solid progress on the road to wisdom. 

The impulsive basis of wisdom and conscientiousness is 
curiosity or wonder. This impulse prompts to observation and 
reflection in order to satisfy the desire to know and to under- 
stand. Other impulses prompt to the pursuit of various ends 
not always in harmony with one another, and to the employ- 
ment of means not always likely to prove successful. The 
sentiment that leads one to evaluate means and ends with care- 
ful accuracy is conscientiousness or wisdom. So important is it 
that the ancient Hebrew writers of the "Wisdom" books as well 



246 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

as the Stoics and Epicureans thought wisdom the supreme 
virtue. If a man could attain this virtue he would be certain 
to gain the rest. 

Wisdom in modern conditions must not be confounded with 
erudition and technical skill. Men who possess these are not 
always wise. On the other hand, the wise executive is often 
simply the man who knows how to pick out experts, and to make 
practical use of their advice. Nor is conscientiousness the virtue 
par excellence of the fanatic, the bigot, or the "conscientious 
objector". If the first two were really conscientious, they would 
not be so lacking in wisdom. The last is sometimes a stubbornly 
conceited individual who fancies himself to be a heroic martyr 
for the sake of his principles, when he refuses or neglects to seek 
and be guided by the judgments of the wise and competent. 

9. Respect 

As a social being, a growing boy is extremely sensitive to 
the behavior of his fellows. When their conduct is superior to 
his own in any way, his impulses of negative self-feeHng and won- 
der are aroused in the complex emotion of admiration; or to this 
reaction may be added a dash of fear, and so constitute the 
emotion of awe. If a boy habitually feels admiration or awe to- 
ward another person he acquires the sentiment of respect for 
him. If the boy, in his own turn, manifests excellence in any 
way, he finds himself an object of respect to those younger than 
himself. Thus his own positive self-feeling is stimulated and 
gratified. Thus made overconfident, perhaps he seeks to dis- 
play his own strong points rather ostentatiously, and presently 
his hasty pride undergoes a fall. His performances do not equal 
his expectations; or some boy of his own age proves more pro- 
ficient than he. So experience teaches him caution, and his 
growing sentiment for himself presently acquires a healthy mix- 
ture of pride and humility. As boys grow into manhood, 
especially with the increased self-consciousness that comes in 
adolescence, they become discriminatingly critical, both of 
other persons and of themselves. 



VIRTUES 247 

The virtue of respect is a rational sentiment in which regard for 
personality is wise, just, benevolent, and honorable. It is a duty 
to respect others and to respect oneself, to give praise and 
blame to others and to oneself in accordance with real worth 
and character. A large part of ethics could be included within 
this virtue. ^^ As compared with the virtue of love or friendship, 
respect is more dispassionate and equitable in its judgments. 
It involves a certain amount of sympathy in the technical 
sense, — ability to feel, understand, and evaluate the emotions 
and sentiments of others, and to put a correct appraisal on the 
worth of one's own as well. Implying, as it does, evaluation 
of other virtues, respect emerges after other virtues have already 
appeared, and it continues to develop with them." 

10. Reverence 

Respect and Reverence are sometimes regarded as synon- 
ymous. Here, however, it will be convenient to distinguish 
between them, and to define Reverence as the extension of the virtue 
of respect to a Being superior to man, who arouses in him com- 
plex emotions of admiration, awe, love, and gratitude, and also, 
probably, of mystic rapture and devoted loyalty. In the old 
pagan religions such emotions, or some of them, were aroused 
by a great variety of supernatural beings. In Christianity and 
Judaism, there is but one supreme object of religious reverence, 
namely, God. 

Some highly moral persons are not at all reverent in the 
religious sense. They have true respect for other human beings 
and social groups as well as for themselves, but they are neither 
reUgious by sentiment nor conviction. On the other hand, most 
people have more or less well developed religious sentiments. 
In profoundly devout persons the religious sentiment is the 
ruling passion in their lives, and all other sentiments and virtues 
are included within it. However, the religious sentiment is not 
necessarily a virtue. The bigot and the fanatic have strong 
religious sentiments, but these are not virtues. A virtue, we 
must remember, is rational, social, and moral, and a mean 



248 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

between two extremes. Whether a person's rehgious sentiment 
is virtuous, depends in part on his conception of God. For the 
religious person tends to become hke his notion of the God whom 
he worships and seeks to follow. If he conceives of God as angry 
and jealous, a vindictive hater of heretics, and intolerant to all 
who do not literally accept the creed of a certain sect to which 
the person adheres, his religious sentiment will lead him to 
imitate in his own life and character what he believes his God 
to be, and to require of him. 

For this reason, among others, even religion must be sub- 
jected to reflective moral criticism. Religion must itself be 
moral, and the God of religion must Himself be the supreme 
exemplar of all the virtues which man has thus far learned to 
respect. The lasting superiority of Christianity and Judaism 
lies largely in the fact that in the history of these religions the 
conception of God has constantly become enlarged and enriched. 
In contrast to the old Greek and Roman religions especially, the 
time has never come when Christians and Jews in their own 
lives have aspired to higher reaches of morality than they have 
been able to attribute to God. There is no reason to fear that 
Christian or Jewish ideals of God will ever become hardened 
and crystallized into doctrinal statements incapable of further 
interpretation in the light of advancing experience. Were this 
to occur, these religions would become morally doomed. Man 
would outgrow them. 

With the understanding that God is conceived as the supreme 
Person who possesses all the moral virtues in superhuman excel- 
lence, and that He expects man to imitate Him, and with His 
help to cultivate all the virtues, Reverence may be rightly re- 
garded by the religious man to be the highest of all the virtues, 
because it includes them all and gives them additional sanction. 
The truly religious man who has acquired the virtue of Rever- 
ence will then excel in courage, temperance, honor, justice, love, 
loyalty, economy, wisdom, and respect. For him, religion is the 
highest morality, and comprehends within itself all that is 
valuable in life.^^ 



VIRTUES 249 

REFERENCES 

Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics. Eudxmean Ethics. 

* F. Paulsen, System of Ethics, Book III. 

* S. E. Mezes, Ethics, Descriptive and Explanatory, chaps. IX-XIV. 

* J. Dewey and J. H. Tufts, Ethics, chap. XIX. 

* M. W. Calkins, The Good Man and the Good, chaps. VI-X. 

* Durant Drake, Problems of Conduct, chaps. XVI, XVII. 

* H. W. Dresser, Ethics, chaps. XX-XXIII. 

* Theodore De Laguna, Introduction to the Science of Ethics, pp. 80-98, 

296-323. 
H. W. Wright, Self-Realization, Part Four. 
C. L. Sherman, The Moral Self, chaps. IV, V. 



CHAPTER X 

THE SELF 

I. Unity and Diversity of the Self 

In philosophy and psychology, the term "self" is used in 
many different senses.^ First, there is the unity of self-conscious- 
ness, which Kant (f 1804) and those who have come under 
his influence have emphasized. ^ All the experiences that we 
undergo form a unity. You could not recognize an object that 
you had perceived before, nor could you awaken in the morn- 
ing out of sound sleep and know yourself to be the same person 
that you were yesterday, unless present and past experiences 
formed a unity, and were known by a common mind. This 
unity of self-consciousness in the adult is only rendered possible 
by the continuous existence and integral unity of the brain 
and nervous system. When this latter is broken down inter- 
ruptions in memory are liable to occur, objects not to be recog- 
nized, illusions, and delusions to be accepted as known facts; 
in aggravated cases, insanity ensues. However, to escape the 
fallacies of materialism, it is necessary to remember that con- 
sciousness cannot be identified with the brain and nervous sys- 
tem. Whatever consciousness may be, and closely related as it 
undoubtedly is to material processes, it is nevertheless unique 
and sui generis. 

Secondly, there is the transcendental or pure Ego, — a silent 
spectator of all a person's sensations, memories, emotions, 
and judgments. The existence of this "I" as Descartes 
(t 1650) showed, cannot be doubted, because in the very process 
of doubting it there must be an "I" that doubts. Yet a per- 
son is not usually aware of the "I", and it is often only on re- 
flection that its presence is found to be implied. The *' I " can- 
not be identified with any particular sensation or image or 

250 



THE SELF 251 

other content of consciousness; as Hume (f 1776) pointed out, 
the latter continually come and go in an ever shifting stream; 
yet the "I" persists. This "I", always present, and always a 
subjective observer and never experienced object, has been 
compared by Shakespeare to the eye of vision, which perceives 
external objects constantly, but cannot directly look at itself.^ 
The Platonic doctrine that this pure Ego is the manifestation 
of some simple, underlying, and indestructible soul substance, 
though held as recently as the eighteenth century by Berkeley 
and others, is generally thought to have been refuted by the 
attacks of Hume and Kant. ^ 

Thirdly, there is the more concrete conception of the self, 
often called '^the empirical me". This, especially in its moral 
aspects, is far more important for ethics than the unity of self- 
consciousness or the pure Ego. It is with this conception that 
we shall be chiefly concerned. Subsequent references in this 
volume to ''the self", "selfhood", "personality" or "character", 
without further specification, will he understood to have reference 
to this third conception of the self, the empirical me. 

The empirical me is harder to define than to describe, al- 
though it is much like the common sense view of what is meant 
when one says "I", or "myself", "you", "he", "she", "per- 
sons", or "people". There is really nothing very involved or 
technical about it. The expression "empirical me" simply 
means that it is the plain "me" of ordinary experience, as dis- 
tinguished from more abstruse and elusive conceptions of the 
self. When we first try to describe what we mean by our 
own selves or those of other people, we are likely to mention 
physical characteristics. "He is tall and strong." "He is fat 
and homely." "She is a pure blonde." But we soon find 
that mental and moral characteristics are more important aspects 
of the self. "He is kindly and good natured, and very sym- 
pathetic; you need not hesitate to ask his assistance.", "He 
is boorish and sarcastic; don't approach him in the matter." 
"She is a very domestic woman, wrapped up in her family; 
she wouldn't be interested in a book on feminism." 



252 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

A living man's self or personality — his empirical me — cer- 
tainly includes his body, which is the bearer and sustainer of 
his spiritual life. The body must be properly fed, clothed, and 
cared for if the self is to be normal. A person's moods and 
temperament, his whole emotional life, and to some extent his 
moral character, are dependent on the functioning of various 
glands, as recent research has established.^ But sentiments 
are what we chiefly have in mind when we think of the self 
from a social or moral standpoint. All that a man values and 
about which his sentiments accordingly develop, profoundly 
affect his self. His vocation and his avocations, the wife whom 
he cherishes and the children whom he has begotten, the 
church, school, hospital, and other philanthropic institutions 
to which he has devoted time and money, the book he has 
written, the business he has built up, the enemies with whom 
he has contended, the political party which he has supported 
and the one which he has opposed, the principles which he 
respects and those which he abhors, — every thing, person, 
institution, and abstract conception or ideal with reference 
to which his primary impulses have become organized in senti- 
ments: — all these make a man what he is, and determine the 
nature of his self.^ So we may say that a man's sentiments chiefly 
make him what he is, or in other words constitute his empirical self. 

As the objects to which a man devotes himself prosper, his 
self or personality expands and becomes assertive; as they 
decline his personality becomes contracted and abased. He is 
angry at an attack on any of them, and springs to their de- 
fense. He feels curiosity regarding all matters that affect these 
objects in any way, he is acquisitive and constructive in their 
behalf, his social impulse is satisfied in the companionship of 
those who are also interested in these objects. A man's ruling 
sentiments, when any decisive test comes, reveal themselves 
in his conduct. A man's behavior is a surer expression of his 
self than his introspections or professions; in crises his senti- 
ments and self reveal themselves in action. "If you love me, 
love my dog": this is as much as to say that the love of my 



THE SELF 253 

dog is one of my ruling sentiments, and no one can love me who 
does not love the object of this sentiment. If you are aware of 
my sentiment, and do not love my dog, it is manifest that you 
cannot love my self. 

If a man's sentiments, as disclosed by what he does, are 
mainly virtuous, he is a good man; if they are mainly vicious, 
he is a bad man ; if they are partly one and partly the other — 
which is really the case with most persons — he is in some ways 
good and in other ways bad. When we appraise a man's char- 
acter, we are evaluating the moral worth of his sentiments. It is 
important to remember that not only do a man's sentiments 
constitute his character, but a man's character determines his 
sentiments. A wise man who loves his country has unfavorable 
sentiments toward the principles and expedients that traitors 
and ill-advised patriots advocate. 

The unity of the empirical me, no less than the unity of self- 
consciousness, depends upon the integral action of the brain 
and nervous system. Lesions of any kind are liable to impair 
it. Functional disturbances may cause breaks in memory, 
and give rise to alternating or multiple personalities, — strange 
pathological cases in which consciousness and memory are 
divided between two or more selves that in turn control the 
body, but have largely different memories, interests, and senti- 
ments.'^ The moral integrity of the self depends, of course, on 
the coherence of its sentiments; when sentiments are virtues 
they promote the complete good of their possessor and the com- 
mon good of humanity. 

II. Roles of the Self 

The self, as empirical me, plays various roles. The same man 
may act in the different roles of a devoted husband and father, 
an honest and successful business man, an earnest church 
worker, an active promoter of various movements of municipal 
interest, a loyal adherent of his political party, and a patriotic 
supporter of his country. Such a man may have a fairly con- 
sistent character. His sentiments may all be virtues that do 



254 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

not often conflict with one another. Yet even such a man would 
show different sides of his personahty to the different groups 
with which he is related. After his death, his widow and chil- 
dren will be comforted as well as surprised at heartfelt tributes 
of appreciation from persons whom they do not know and groups 
with which they have slight acquaintance. And they would 
have been even more surprised if while he were living they had 
witnessed his speech and behavior in each of these relationships, 
in ways that might have aroused their approval and admira- 
tion, but certainly were vastly different from the role which 
fell naturally to him in the home. The virtuous man may not 
fear to let all of his friends witness all of his activities; but no 
acquaintance who knows him in only one of his roles could in 
advance predict just how he would appear in any other. 

Many men would be reluctant for all of their friends in one 
of their roles to know them in certain of their other roles. In 
such a case, the man in some of his roles may be playing parts 
that he is aware are morally unworthy of the self he manifests 
in more favorable roles. Illustrations would be that of a kind 
father and husband who is a brutal employer, or a dehghtfully 
good fellow at the club who reserves his spells of bad temper 
for the privacy of his home. Or a man may be plajdng roles 
which he does not believe to be morally blameworthy, but 
which some of his more narrow-minded associates in other roles 
might condemn. A clergyman in a narrow sect may find it 
necessary to smoke surreptitiously in the attic, or visit the 
plays of Shakespeare or Ibsen in cities where he is not known. 
Many pohticians, capitalists, and labor leaders are forced in 
public to oppose unquahfiedly persons and principles that in 
private, to those whom they can trust, they concede to have 
considerable merit. Such men are usually not hypocrites. 
Most of them are conscientiously rendering to society the 
services needed of them; which they could not do if they did 
not play these roles in the manner expected of them. The real 
hypocrite is the man who plays inconsistent roles in order to 
further his selfish interests at the expense of the groups whom 



THE SELF 255 

he professes to serve. The Hne between adaptability and hypoc- 
risy is not always easy to draw, and many deceive themselves 
by pseudo-rationalizations into thinking that contemptible 
deceit is kindly tact and wise diplomacy. 

Does a man's self as a whole select the roles which he plays, 
or do the roles make the man's self what it is? Partly one and 
partly the other. A young man, governed by his sentiments 
at the time, chooses his profession, his wife, and the various 
groups and principles with which he identifies himself. But 
the governing sentiments that constitute his personality when 
he makes these choices are the outgrowth of his previous associa- 
tions, in many of which he was born and bred without conscious 
choice. And in after life each of his roles puts its stamp upon 
him, not only upon his body in physical appearance and facial 
expression, but upon his character in habits, convictions, tastes, 
and sentiments. If he plays his roles successfully, he will live 
himself into them, and ultimately become what they determine 
him to be, 

III. Social Nature of the Self 

Selfhood or personality is not innate; it is acquired in a 
social environment. A little baby has no self; he is merely a 
"candidate for personality". The infant of two or three years 
is already, however, in the process of its acquisition. He 
imitates older children as well as adults in his little plays, and 
so learns his mother tongue, and also his first moral — or quasi- 
moral — judgments which consist of emotions of approval and 
disapproval of various actions which he sees approved or 
disapproved by his elders. He engages in activities that bring 
him applause, and desists from those likely to bring a frown or 
a spank. As he grows a little older, he continues through imi- 
tation, sympathy, and suggestion to adopt the likes, dislikes, 
and general behavior of his elders. He practices on those still 
younger than he, playing that they are his children or pupils, 
domineering over them, and often exploiting them. With his 
peers — other children of like age and attainments — he asso- 



256 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

ciates on equal terms, now taking the lead, and now following, 
now fighting with them, and now cooperating for common pur- 
poses. His earlier sentiments are thus formed. They maj^ be 
virtuous within his capacities: — courage in defense of his little 
sister and his dog, obedience and docility to teachers and fair 
play to his comrades, — rudimentary forms of justice and con- 
scientiousness; temperance, in refusing to eat sweetmeats to 
an extent that parents and experience have taught him are 
liable to lead to indigestion. Although the vices of infancy 
and childhood — unbridled temper, greed, cowardice, l3ang, 
bullying, jealousy, and spite — do not begin so early as St. Au- 
gustine supposed, they emerge soon. 

All the sentiments, good and bad, are acquired in a social 
environment. The child is no wax tablet, to be sure, passively 
molded by parents, teachers, and associates as they will. 
The primary impulses, if not innate instincts, at any rate are 
stubborn and vigorous, and they delimit the possibilities of 
moral training. One child has a powerful pugnacious impulse; 
it is impossible to train him to be a gentle soul; jTt he can be 
prevented from developing into a bully. Instead he may be 
taught to become a heroic champion of fair play and a fighter 
of iniquity, — first in the nursery, later in the schoolroom and on 
the playground, and, when he becomes an adult, in public life. 
Another child, who manifests constitutional timidity, will never 
have it in him to be a hard fighter for any cause, good or bad, 
but he need not become a sneak or a coward. As a bo}^, he 
may learn to be a prudent counselor who infiuences his play- 
mates against hasty and ill-considered projects; as a man, he 
may prove to be one of those wise consei'vatives who keep well 
meaning but hot-headed radicals from plunging societj- into 
downfall and ruin. The primary impulses of no two children 
are equal in relative strength; the virtues and vices into which 
their sentiments are likely to develop are diverse. Yet the 
social environment, if wisely controlled and directed, will 
facilitate the growth of children into useful men and women, — 
even in cases in which physical heredity is unfavorable. 



THE SELF 257 

Since anyone's personality is the outgrowth of interaction 
between his primary instincts (or impulses) and his social en- 
vironment, it is not surprising that his own consciousness is a 
quasi-social affair. A man's thoughts are a perpetual conversa- 
tion. If the reader will watch his own mental processes for a 
day, he will be surprised to see how true this is. He will find 
that he is constantly praising, condemning, and reasoning with 
himself, — just as if within him were an ego and an alter, two 
different personalities. He will find that his ego or "I" will 
say to his alter or "myself", — "You had better study to- 
morrow's logic lesson, and not go to the movies this evening". 
Possibly "myself" humbly replies, "Yes, perhaps you are 
right ", or more spiritedly rejoins, " No, you have studied enough 
for to-day, and you need the recreation". "Myself" says to 
my "I", — "I made a great hit with Miss Smith at the dance 
last night", while "I" retorts, "No, you didn't; she thought 
you a great clown, and you stepped all over her toes!" "My- 
self" crestfallenly admits that such is likely true. "Mj^elf" 
fortunately has some sense of humor, and can laugh at his own 
shortcomings; moreover he is sure that "I" is not infalUble, 
and sometimes too severe in judging "myself". That is rather 
a pity, for "I" is probably the most indulgent critic that "my- 
self" possesses.^ 

Sometimes the individual who watches such conversations 
going on within his own mind will identify himself with one, 
and sometimes with the other of the speakers. In moral strug- 
gles he may bewail with Ovid, St. Paul, and Faust that two 
souls dwell within his breast, and that while he sees and approves 
the better course he follows the worse.* In former times, a 
man might have identified himself with the better of the two 
contestants in an internal moral struggle, and think of the other 
as a devil who was tempting him; or he might think of himself 
as the baser of the two, and believe the other to be an angel, 
or even God Himself. Both ego and alter, from a modern 
psychological standpoint, must be considered quasi-persons 
into which the whole self is temporarily divided, each representa- 



258 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

tive of sentiments for the time in conflict. A man is responsible 
for all that goes on within his mind, both good and bad. Be- 
tween two conflicting selves, it is within his power to identify 
himself with, and permanently become, whichever he really 
chooses. If a moral decision is virtuously made, it is a reconcili- 
ation of opposing impulses in the interests of the whole self, 
with proper recognition of the claims of society upon him. His 
self advances to a higher plane. If the decision is wrongly 
made, the self is further disorganized, or becomes coordinated 
on a lower moral plane, so that the man emerges from the 
crisis a person of lower character than he might have become. 

IV. Sympathy 

Sympathy, as we have seen in Chapter IX, is the experience 
of the emotions of others. Since man is an animal with power- 
ful social instincts or impulses, he readily experiences the emo- 
tions of his fellows, especially of the social groups with which 
he identifies himself. Even in a crowd, impulses and emotions 
of fear, anger, laughter, and curiosity are extremely contagious, 
and become intensified as they spread. A crowd may degen- 
erate into a mob, carried away by such emotions, and perform 
acts of brutality, and more rarely of generosity, of which its 
members would have been incapable as individuals. Lynch- 
ings culminating in burning victims at the stake, enlistments 
in a volunteer army, and religious pseudo-conversions are 
instances. Such sympathetic emotions induced in crowds are 
likely to prove transient, and to have no permanent hold upon 
individuals, once the crowd has been dissolved. The individual 
on reflection regrets the brutal lynching into which crowd ex- 
citement drew him. He may have to stay in the army, but 
he regrets that he was carried away by the music and the 
speeches, and he feels that he would have been a better soldier 
if his patriotism had been appealed to more rationally. The 
victim of the religious revival on deliberation is likely to laugh 
at his pseudo-conversion, and to regard revivalists as clever 
impostors or strangely deluded fanatics. It is worth debating 



THE SELF 259 

to what extent organized cheering and singing at athletic con- 
tests develop enduring sentiments of loyalty and affection for 
the college or university, notwithstanding the violent emotions 
which they evoke at the time. 

In groups more coherently and permanently organized than 
crowds and mobs, the emotions sympathetically experienced 
by the different members become knit together into sentiments. 
The members are thus effectively united, with common tradi- 
tions, ideals, hopes, and aspirations. A liturgy, as in a church 
or lodge, may be employed to arouse such emotions and per- 
manently attach them to common objects of loyalty. Patriotic 
exercises may strengthen national sentiment. ^"^ 

Sympathy plays an important part in the moral life. Every 
one, to some extent, craves the sympathy of those to whom he 
is attached. Some persons become selfish in the assertion of 
what Professor McDougall calls "active sympathy 'V^ and in- 
sist on recounting their worries and joys to others whom they 
expect to be responsive, and to participate in their emotions. 
Such a man may prove a positive bore to his friends, and he 
may bring his wife to nervous prostration. Within moderate 
limits, however, every person needs to share his emotions with 
his friends. He thus gains relief from anxieties which become 
lighter when shared, increased joy from pleasures which are 
renewed and enhanced when recounted, and greater devotion 
to ideals which are clarified and strengthened as they are dis- 
cussed. 

The development of character and the acquisition of virtues 
are furthered through motives induced by sympathy. A per- 
son desires to share the sentiments of his groups; and as he does 
so, he acquires their likes and dislikes, their moral judgments, 
and, in time, their virtues. Without sympathy, moral conduct 
and social life would be impossible. Unless members of groups 
mutually shared each other's emotions and acquired common 
sentiments, there could be no common values which they could 
seek, and no traits of character that they would generally 
approve and cultivate as virtues. Sympathetically experiencing 



260 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

the suffering of another person prompts to tender emotion 
and pity for him, and so to the virtue of charity or benevolence. 
Knowledge of the wrongs of another through sympathy arouses 
anger at those who have injured him; and this, coupled with 
social feeling for the offender himself, tempers anger into 
moral indignation and so leads to the virtue of justice. 

Desire for sympathy is the principal motive impelling most 
persons toward righteous conduct, though probably it is not 
the exclusive motive in any human action. The child under- 
stands his mother's emotions more than she realizes. He fears 
her anger or disgust not merely nor chiefly because of possible 
punishment, but because he wishes her love and confidence. 
As he grows up, he wishes the good will of his groups, avoids 
the vices that would make him an object of their dislike, and 
cultivates the virtues that win their approval. As he becomes 
more reflective, the sympathy sought may not be so much that 
of the persons immediately in his vicinity as of the more com- 
petent ones of his profession or religion or other specialized 
group. Or he may become religious enough to be satisfied with 
believing that he has the sympathy of God; or like Adam Smith, 
philosophical enough to be content to believe that a purely 
ideal spectator who thoroughly understood the situation and 
was completely competent to judge, would sympathetically 
share his sentiments and approve his conduct. 

The cases supposed in the last paragraph increasingly imply 
an advance beyond a moral outlook based exclusively upon 
sympathy, if by the latter is meant the mere participation in 
common emotions. Discrimination is made in those whose 
sympathy is sought. This implies reflective criticism. A per- 
son may ask himself on this level: "Do I deserve sympathy?" 
This means that he wishes his emotions and sentiments to 
merit endorsement on moral grounds. His emotions must be- 
come rationalized, socialized, and individualized, in order to 
warrant sympathy on the part of competent judges. ^'- 

What psychological principles will effect this rationalization? 
It has sometimes been affirmed that it can be effected through 



THE SELF 261 

an appeal to pleasure. It will therefore be necessary to consider 
the psychological interpretation of pleasure. 

V. Pleasure and Unpleasantness 

We have seen that the basic springs of moral conduct are 
the principal primary impulses and the sentiments in which 
these impulses are organized. When an impulse is in the process 
of satisfaction pleasure is experienced; when it is in the process 
of being thwarted or obstructed, unpleasantness is felt. While 
a person is succeeding in activities concerned with the object 
he loves, hates, or respects, his feeling is pleasurable; when the 
reverse is true, his feeling is unpleasant. If a person could be 
conceived as absolutely devoid of impulses, he would be totally 
apathetic, incapable of feeling either pleasure or unpleasant- 
ness. Most of the time people do not directly desire the feeling 
of pleasure itself or directly avoid the feeling of unpleasantness. 
What is ordinarily desired is some object to which an impulse 
or sentiment impels ; and because the person already desires the 
object, he is capable of experiencing pleasure or unpleasantness 
with reference to it. 

To make this clearer, we must first eliminate pain from con- 
sideration, and get some idea of the psychological functions of 
pleasantness and unpleasantness. Pain is a specific organic 
sensation comparable to the various sensations of sight, hearing, 
taste, smell, temperature, and pressure. It has definite nerve 
fibers and end organs scattered throughout the body. Its 
function is to evoke movements of withdrawal, both reflexes 
and conscious acts, when bodily tissues are being injured or 
seriously disturbed. Pain, thus understood as an organic sen- 
sation, is not much discussed in ethics. When the word occurs 
in ethical treatises it usually refers to what recent and more 
careful usage no longer calls pain, but unpleasantness or dis- 
agreeableness. 

Pleasure or pleasantness and unpleasantness or disagreeableness 
(not "displeasure") on the other hand, are not specific organic 
sensations at all. They are technically known as Affection or 



262 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

Feeling. The neural basis of affection may be the general 
character of nervous reaction as a whole, or it may be undif- 
ferentiated nerve cells; the authorities differ on this question. 
At any rate, affection is the general tone or quality of the whole 
condition of consciousness at a given time, and not, like pain 
and other sensations, a constituent element or process within 
consciousness. When a child tastes candy, he has a sensation 
of sweetness and a feeling tone of pleasure ; when he tastes qui- 
nine, he has a sensation of bitterness and a feeling of unpleasant- 
ness. All persons experience the same sensations when they 
taste mustard, but some persons find these sensations agreeable 
and others find them disagreeable. 

Sensuous pleasure attends the satisfaction of organic impulses 
or appetites, such as the eating of well prepared food when one 
is hungry, warming oneself before the fire when chilly, and the 
like. Sensuous unpleasantness attends the thwarting or obstruc- 
tion of orgajiic impulses or appetites, such as the taste of poorly 
cooked food when hungry, the oppression of foul air which one 
is forced to breathe in a subway, etc. There is some experi- 
mental evidence in favor of the theory that sensuous pleasure 
is attended by expansive movements in the muscles, the flow 
of blood to the surface of the body, and increased respiration, 
while unpleasantness is attended by the opposite phenomena. 
It seems to be agreed that sensuous pleasure is likely to be 
attended by bodily movements of expansion and approach, and 
that it is an index of normal and efficient neural action; while 
sensuous unpleasantness is likely to attend movements of 
bodily contraction and withdrawal, and that it marks exces- 
sive or defective nervous reaction. 

In general, sensuous pleasure attends processes that are 
immediately favorable to the welfare of the organism, and 
sensuous unpleasantness those that are not so. The exceptions 
to this rule are mostly instances of the general principle that 
"the senses are not prophets"; affection, hke a thermometer, 
registers present and not future conditions. The immediate 
organic reactions from eating lobster salad and drinking intoxi- 



THE SELF 263 

cants freely are favorable and so pleasurable ; if poisoning effects 
develop later they will be registered in disagreeable affection, 
as well as in sensations of pain, when and not until they occur. 
The function of sensuous pleasure is therefore to reinforce the 
impulses that are being gratified and to encourage their continu- 
ance. The function of unpleasant sensuous feeling is to retard 
impulses that are being hampered, or to cause the efforts to 
satisfy them to take some other form. 

Ideational pleasantness and unpleasantness are the concomi- 
tants of mental activity that is either successfully or unsuccess- 
fully carried on. If mental activity is at once being stimulated 
to greatest intensity while obstacles are being consistently 
overcome, the feeling tone is pleasurable. ^Esthetic pleasures 
are afforded by works of art that produce the greatest unity in 
the greatest variety. A strikingly short, direct, and simple 
solution of a mathematical problem affords aesthetic pleasure, 
as does a scientific experiment that solves a perplexing problem 
by a simple and effective device. Any theory is beautiful and 
pleasant that brings under one point of view a multitude of 
seemingly disconnected facts, and so gives coherence to our 
understanding. A literary style has a pleasant charm if it is 
clear and compact. Pleasant is the concurrence in rhythm be- 
tween two distinct processes, like the correspondence between 
sound and sense in poetry, or dancing to music. A lecture is 
pleasant when the listener's thoughts move concurrently with 
the speaker's; the latter does not bore him by dwelling too long 
on any single point, nor does exposition proceed so rapidly that 
it is difficult to follow. A well constructed drama or novel 
holds the attention pleasurably; the action is stimulating be- 
cause complex and rapid, while at the same time the plot is 
solved clearly and convincingly, without irrelevant digressions. 
A game or contest is pleasurable, no matter who wins, provided 
it calls forth the skill of well matched opponents, and enables 
each to do his best. A humorous story evokes pleasure by 
arousing the close attention of listeners, and suddenly satisfy- 
ing it in a manner that is both apt and unexpected. 



264 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

On the other hand, when mental activity is not sufficiently 
stimulated, the resultant feeling tone is unpleasant. Unceasing 
monotony for this reason is always disagreeable, — whether in 
a landscape, a building, a novel, or a poem. If mental activity 
is stimulated only to be thwarted or baffled, the feeUng tone is 
even more unpleasant. Simple illustrations would be arrange- 
ment of things of any sort in a disorderly manner, say heaps of 
stone and rubbish, books and clothes scattered about chaotically 
in a room, a neglected garden overgrown with weeds and under- 
brush, or a book consisting of miscellaneous anecdotes and com- 
ments of no great intrinsic interest and bearing no common 
significance. Material of any kind that is so intricately put 
together that a person cannot grasp its meaning will be disagree- 
able to him ; although it may afford high intellectual pleasure to 
a better informed person who can understand and appreciate 
it. Mystical poems and dramas and difficult classical music 
will serve as illustrations. A lecturer is disagreeable if he bores 
his audience by frequent digressions, unnecessary pedantry, 
and elaborations of the obvious, or if he makes himself in--' 
comprehensible by too rapid exposition of difficult points. 
Badly constructed plots are unpleasant to follow, because they 
arouse interest only to tantalize it by long digressions. A one- 
sided game is unpleasant; the skill of the superior contestant is 
not evoked, while the inferior is hopelessly baffled. A humor- 
ous story is a failure if its point is either obscure, too obvious, 
or too long delayed; such a story is decidedly unpleasant, and 
the attempt to laugh at it out of courtesy is disagreeable. 

The acute suffering caused by a recent bereavement is due to 
the fact that thoughts of the deceased are constantly called 
forth by everything that occurs, as a result of past associations, 
and such thoughts are only brought to mind to be crushed. In 
the process of time, thoughts of the deceased are no longer 
connected with present plans and purposes, and ever^^day 
living, and they become mere memories. As such, they are 
less hard to bear; gradually the feeling aroused is connected 
with emotions of tender sadness. Finally, memories of the 



THE SELF 265 

dead, now simply precious and comforting, become pleasurable, 
and stimulate instead of repress mental activity. Sorrows of 
bereavement again suddenly become acute when there is some 
vivid reminder of the one who has been lost, so that for the 
moment he almost seems to be present, only to be followed by 
the bitter realization of the actual facts. Unexpectedly coming 
across personal letters written by the deceased, or sudden 
waking from a dream in which his companionship has been 
enjoyed, may have this consequence.^^ 

VI. Hedonism 

Psychological Hedonism maintains that all that men ever 
desire are pleasant feelings, and all that they ever seek to avoid 
are unpleasant feelings. In the light of the preceding section, 
the reader will perceive on a little reflection that this doctrine 
cannot be true. It is because impulses prompt men to desire 
objects that it is possible for them to feel pleasure if they are 
successful in their efforts to obtain them, and to feel unpleasant- 
ness if their efforts are thwarted. Yet it would be going too far 
to contend that people never seek to repeat pleasant feelings 
simply for the sake of their pleasantness. Pleasant dishes are 
eaten again when opportunity offers. A man may repeatedly 
engage in athletic sports for the pleasurable excitement that 
they afford him. Indulgence in sensuous pleasures for their 
own sake, if done in moderation, is not necessarily wrong. 
Only ascetics have fancied this to be true. But the improper 
cultivation of sensuous pleasures for their own sake leads to 
the vices of sensuality, like gluttony, drunkenness, and sexual 
debauchery, or the milder vice of the man who becomes ab- 
sorbed in athletics to the neglect of any serious interest in life. 
Under this head perhaps should be classified the vices of gam- 
bling and excessive love of excitement, such as that of the woman 
who spends all her mornings reading fiction, and all her after- 
noons and evenings playing bridge; although the pleasure in 
such cases is to some extent intellectual. 

Ideational pleasures are sometimes cultivated for their own 



266 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

sake. A poem is reread, a melody played or listened to once 
more, a foreign city is visited again and again, — all purely to 
revive agreeable feelings of an intellectual character. In mod- 
eration, this, too, is defensible. Carried to excess it is the vice of 
sestheticism, or that of love of mental excitement. In the course of 
time sensuous and aesthetic pleasures sought for themselves alone 
cease to satisfy. The jaded sensualist and the blase aesthete are 
defeated in their pursuit of pleasure and become pessimists. 

Attention should be called in passing to what has come to 
be known as the "paradox of hedonism". Pleasure is most 
keenly felt when attention is not directed upon a person's 
feelings, but upon something more objective. To feel pleasure, 
don't think about it. Who, for instance, would keenly enjoy 
witnessing a lively athletic contest if he kept thinking constantly 
of his feelings, kept hugging himself and inwardly ejaculating 
"What a wonderful time I am having!" Only as a person for- 
gets himself in the excitement, and is absorbed in intense desire 
for the victory of his team, can he get much of an inward thrill 
from watching a game. The same remark applies to all pleas- 
ures, sensuous almost as much as intellectual. A man must 
discriminatingly observe the excellent qualities of food, wine, 
and cigars if they are to afford him much pleasure. The novel 
reader and the bridge player forget themselves and their in- 
ward feelings of pleasure, and become lost in exciting events. 
The lover of the arts must be intent upon the harmonious 
composition of the musical tones, the rhythm of the poem, the 
symmetry and proportion of the cathedral, if he is to feel keen 
aesthetic pleasure from them. 

Ethical Hedonism defines good and evil in terms of pleasant- 
ness and unpleasantness; men ought to seek what will most 
promote pleasure and diminish unpleasantness. The critical 
discussion of ethical hedonism will be reserved for Chapter 
XIII. In the present connection, however, three observations 
may properly be made. First, since psychological hedonism is 
largely false, a case for ethical hedonism cannot be deduced 
from it. Secondly, the fact that constant and deliberate culti- 



THE SELF 267 

vation of agreeable feelings for their own sake is liable to lead 
to the vices of sensuality and sestheticism, makes it doubtful 
whether an entirely satisfactory standard for moral judgments 
can be found in the injunction that the object of every action 
should be the promotion of pleasant feelings. Thirdly, since 
sensuous pleasure is in the majority of instances the concomitant 
of processes that really promote bodily welfare, and since idea- 
tional pleasures attend activities that are successful in achiev- 
ing the purposes to which impulses and sentiments prompt, 
ethical hedonism cannot be wholly off the track. Any action 
that would have as its ultimate effect the increase of the pleas- 
ure of mankind would be very likely to be morally desirable; 
any action that would have the opposite result would in all 
probability be morally undesirable. 

VII. Duty and Conscience 

To achieve the satisfaction of any of his impulses, a man is 
dependent on his physical and social environment. So even 
primitive men and small children feel external restraints or 
sanctions to act in certain ways rather than in others. Physical 
sanctions force men to protect themselves against cold, storm, 
and drought, to work harder than they would otherwise do, and 
to deny themselves indulgences. The physiological require- 
ments of his organism enjoin upon a man both indulgence and 
restraint in food, drink, sex, rest, exertion, and sleep. Political 
sanctions include the restraints of the government on the 
individual; he must obey the laws on penalty of punishment. 
Social sanctions (the adjective is not very apt) are the coercions 
of public opinion; man is ever anxious to have the good will and 
moral approval of his fellows, and to escape their censure and 
dislike. Religious sanctions influencing conduct are the result 
of man's concern to be in harmony with the spiritual forces in 
the universe external to him, e.g., the result of his fear and love 
of ancestral ghosts, nature spirits, and gods in many primitive 
religions, and of the one God in the case of Christianity and 
Judaism.^* 



268 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

What has been true of the race continues to be true of the 
modern individual child. He is led to act in certain ways and 
to refrain from acting in others, because of his desire to please 
his elders and playmates. "Good" and "bad" for the little 
child are respectively the actions that arouse favorable and 
unfavorable responses from those who control his environment. 
Fear, filial affection, desire for comradeship, self-assertion and 
submission make him seek the "good" and avoid the "bad" 
as he conceives them. 

Conscience, in the light of what has just been said, in its more 
rudimentary forms, includes the intellectual recognition of what 
the sanctions just mentioned require of the individual. It also 
includes a complex emotion, in which fear, love, the social emo- 
tion, and submission are contained. Duty is felt when there is 
a conflict of impulses and emotions within the self, between the 
demands of conscience and contrary desires. The feeling urges 
the self to the performance of the obligations recognized by 
conscience. Thus conscience and duty emerge in their rudi- 
mentary forms, in the evolution of the race and in the develop- 
ment of the modern individual child. 

As the race became reflective, and as the modern individual 
child grows older, duty and conscience come to mean something 
more than impulses to conform to the physical, political, social, 
and religious environments. It comes to be consciously per- 
ceived that certain things ought to be done, and certain virtues 
ought to be acquired, and that certain other things ought not 
to be done, and certain vices ought to be avoided, simply and 
for no other reason than that one form of conduct is good and 
right, and the other is bad and wrong. "Good", "bad", 
"right", and "wrong" are unanalyzable intuitions that animals 
do not have, that savages and infants very slowly acquire, but 
that the moral consciousness of the reflective man frankly 
recognizes. Just as colors as we sense them are not the light 
waves that stimulate the retinae of our eyes, and sounds as we 
hear them are not the air waves that beat upon the drums of 
our ears, so these intuitions are something different from the 



THE SELF 269 

sanctions that evoke them within us. And when reflective 
man recognizes these intuitions he feels it is his duty to conform 
to them, and his emotional state is unsatisfactory until he does 
so. His conscience "troubles" him. 

What particular moral judgments a man makes, except so 
far as physical sanctions tend everywhere to be similar, depends 
on the moral tradition with which he has come into contact. 
No man, as Thomas Hill Green remarked, can make a con- 
science for himself. He acquires the moral tradition of his 
group, and makes moral judgments and feels moral obligations 
accordingly, in much the same way that he learns to speak the 
language of his group. Yet the modern man's conscience is 
not absolutely determined for him by the moral traditions of a 
single group. We inherit many moral traditions — Hebrew, 
Greek, Roman, Medieval, Protestant, and others. The En- 
lightenment has taught us to think, and the industrial revolu- 
tion has rapidly changed social life and customs. Consequently 
many diverse moral judgments are in the air, and every one is 
prompted to reflective choice among them. Perhaps the inhab- 
itants of the United States differ almost as much in their con- 
sciences and their moral judgments as they do in their physical 
features. The outcome is, that each of us has a conscience which 
more or less critically and intelligently passes moral judgments 
that he feels it his duty to obey. 

Awareness of duty is most acute when there is a conflict 
within a man's self between the impulse to act in accordance 
with his conscience, and impulses that prompt him to act in 
some other way. Many writers confine the feeling of duty 
and obligation to such situations. Such conflicts become rarer 
as a man grows older. His character develops, his habits be- 
come fixed, and his self more unitary. To some extent this 
means that he has become a better man. Men who have 
reached middle life ought to be, and usually are, better men 
than they were as youths. They have had the opportunity 
through years of experience to become so. On the other hand, 
as men grow older and more addicted to routine, they become 



270 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

less sensitive to moral problems. Lofty ideals and heroic 
sacrifices are likely to appear visionary and impractical, and 
their consciences not to trouble them if they act in ways that 
have become habitual with them, and are generally regarded 
as respectable. Perhaps this is not true of the saint, or other 
person of unusually fine moral sensitiveness. As such a per- 
son grows older, and has clearer moral perceptions with added 
experience, he realizes more painfully the deficiencies in his 
character that are not yet overcome, and to the end of life he 
grows steadily in all the virtues, remaining humble because he 
sees the path of duty extending infinitely beyond the point he 
has been able to reach. ^^ 

VIII. Reason and Volition 

The whole of this volume is intended to be a discussion of 
reason in ethics. In this particular section, however, certain 
aspects of reasoning in connection with volition and the self 
need to be indicated briefly. 

Reasoning in moral decisions includes the employment of 
the ordinary logical processes of deduction and induction. 
Established moral principles need to be applied to particular 
problems, consequences of possible courses of action need to be 
thought out carefully. Means and ends both require evalua- 
tion. 

A rational decision in a moral situation implies a coordina- 
tion of all the instincts and emotions involved. A stranger 
makes a very insulting remark in your presence. Your first 
impulse — resentment — is to knock the impertinent fellow down. 
If you remember the injunction to count ten when angrj", and 
so give an opportunity for other ideas and impulses to come to 
consciousness, you probably will not do so. This is a public 
place, and you have no desire for a lot of notoriety, explana- 
tions to the police, and loss of time from your engagements. 
You have never seen the man before. He has either mistaken 
you for some other person or he is drunk or crazy. So you 
decide to leave him alone. Your other impulses and senti- 



THE SELF 271 

ments thus overcome the immediate impulse and save the 
situation for you. You act rationally, and avoid making a 
fool of yourself. 

Reason in morahty is closely related to volition. Each 
implies the coordination of impulses and sentiments in response 
to the whole self. Spinoza thought of will and reason as identi- 
cal; while for Kant the will is the practical reason, i.e., reason 
in conduct. 

When a person has to make a moral decision between the 
call of duty and conflicting impulses, if his choice is right he 
seems, as William James observed, "to act along the line of 
greatest resistance". The still voice of duty sounds weak and 
repellent, while the voice of contrary inclination is strong and 
seductive. It would certainly seem as if he, by sheer force of 
will power, does what his strongest impulses oppose. 

The fact of the matter is, of course, that any decision, good 
or bad, if freely made by a sane mind, is the person's own act, 
and he is responsible for it. A hasty action prompted by a 
single impetuous impulse like pugnacity or self-assertion, is 
usually wrong. A carefully deliberated action is much more 
likely to be right. If deliberation occurs, there is time for all 
the impulses and sentiments to assert themselves. The seduc- 
tive temptation, though gratifying to certain impulses and 
sentiments, conflicts with the virtues that the person possesses, 
and especially it may be, with his respect for himself and for 
others. When he carefully considers all the consequences that 
would follow from the contemplated act, the possible or even 
inevitable injury to others or to himself, it is not the sort of 
thing that he can do in consistency with his ideal of himself, — 
with the kind of man that he hopes that he is. So, in the end, 
he simply cannot do the act which he clearly perceives to be 
wrong. Or, in case he is contemplating a good, perhaps gener- 
ous or heroic act that calls for sacrifice, he finds that he simply 
must do this thing; he is the kind of man that "can do no 
other". In either case the man acts in accordance with the 
demands of his whole self, so far as they can be given expres- 



272 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

sion under the circumstances. His action, after all, is in the 
line of least resistance. ^^ 

IX. Self-Realization and Self-Sacrifice 

In this connection can be briefly indicated the respective 
places of Self-Realization and Self-Sacrifice. Some ethical 
writers have said that the moral good can best be considered 
in terms of Self-Realization: each individual, remembering, of 
course, that he is a social being, should seek the fullest expres- 
sion of his whole self, of his entire personality. He should, for 
instance, select the vocation in which he can bring his talents 
to fullest expression. He should choose as his wife the woman 
to whose personality his own most fully responds. Since he is 
a social being, the man who thus seeks self-realization will find 
that he must be of service to others. For instance, the success- 
ful physician must conserve the health of his patients; the suc- 
cessful merchant must offer his customers the goods they desire, 
in good variety, with honest representation of their character, 
and at the lowest prices. The successful husband must be a 
faithful, loving, and considerate helpmate. And no man's life 
can normally be wholly restricted to the demands of his vocation 
and of his wife. He can realize himself in work and pla}- only by 
performing numerous services to many persons and groups in 
many ways. To the extent that a man realizes the best that is 
within him, he renders greatest service to others and leads the 
good life in accordance with the demands of duty and conscience. 

The advocates of Self-Sacrifice state a contrary view. They 
quote Scripture to the effect that he who would save his life 
must lose it. Ascetics have made a virtue of self-denial for the 
mere sake of enduring privations. The truth between the two 
positions is clear. It is impossible to realize all of a person's 
interests in any situation. One must always choose. For in- 
stance, in selecting any vocation and making a success of it, 
a man must concentrate his time and attention upon it, often 
to the sacrifice of much that he values. Darwin, for instance, 
largely lost his enjoyment for music as a result of the concentra- 



THE SELF 273 

tion of his attention upon biology. Yet he reaUzed himself 
more fully by so doing, and he rendered a far greater service to 
humanity than he could have done if he had retained his musi- 
cal gifts at the cost of dilettantism in biology. A man who 
marries sacrifices his bachelor independence and has to adapt 
himself to domestic life, while a woman leaves behind her the 
joyous and care free years of girlhood. Both assume increased 
responsibilities. In a happy marriage both find that they have 
gained many times what they have lost. Self-sacrifice is justifi- 
able only when it promotes some greater good. Self-realiza- 
tion and self-sacrifice should not be conflicting principles. Each 
implies the other. However, self-realization is the positive 
good, and self-sacrifice a necessary evil, — the cost that we have 
to pay for the good. 

In choosing a vocation, no one should ordinarily select a 
career for which he has no liking, simply because he sees that 
there is need for the services of men along that line. No one, 
for instance, should become a minister or a foreign missionary 
just because the world needs such men, and the life is accom- 
panied by many hardships and privations. He should only 
enter such a calling because the opportunities for service that 
it affords seem so attractive to him that the hardships and pri- 
vations appear negligible in comparison; and after having 
chosen such a calling, he should be careful to select a wife 
whose evaluation of his profession, including its opportunities 
and sacrifices, agrees entirely with his own. Only a person who 
can realize himself in a calling is likely to be of much service 
to others in it. This is true most of all in professions like the 
ministry, in which the services required include frequent de- 
mands for the full and free expression of sympathy, — entering 
into and understanding the emotional needs and sentiments of 
all sorts and conditions of men. The man who does not have 
unusual capacity for sympathy, and love of the other services 
that the vocation calls for, and merely enters the ministry from 
a sense of duty and self-sacrifice will later be judged by his 
suffering parishioners to have missed his real vocation. 



274 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

Men who have talents for leadership, and can best express 
their personalities in directing other men, should quahfy them- 
selves for executive positions. Men with more drab and im- 
personal natures, who like best to work by themselves, and 
neither disturb others nor be disturbed by them, if not brilHant 
may find themselves happy and useful in work of a routine 
character; while brilliant men of this type who engage in sci- 
entific or other important research sometimes prove to be the 
greatest men of their generation. 

There are, of course, cases in which it becomes the duty of a 
person to make a sacrifice for the sake of others, without any 
apparent chance for proportionate self-realization. For in- 
stance, two brothers have dependent upon them a widowed 
mother in poor health. Each boy is quite capable of working 
his way through college; but one of them will have to stay at 
home and engage in manual labor in order to support the mother. 
Which shall it be? The more generous one, who feels more 
attached to his mother, and to whom it will seem less of a 
sacrifice? To say this seems to put a premium on selfishness. 
Yet it is clear that the more affectionate son is the one who 
would prove of greater comfort to the mother. And, perhaps 
after all, he will be the one to realize the finer and nobler self. 
Fame, riches, and power are not the highest values for which 
to strive. More numerous, however, are the cases in which a 
selfish person demands disproportionate sacrifices from others. 
A selfish mother who imagines herself an invalid, and prevents 
her children from marrying or going into professions because 
she "needs them at home" might be stronger physically, 
mentally, and morally if she would sacrifice her caprices for 
the good of herself as well as of her children. Again, the over- 
sacrificing mother who spoils her children is mistaken in tliink- 
ing that she is enabling them to realize their selves to the best 
advantage. 

While, therefore, there are exceptions, the principle usually 
holds that if each person conscientiously seeks to realize his 
more important capacities to the full, sacrificing other capacities 



THE SELF 275 

only when necessary for that purpose, he will thereby best fulfill 
his duty to others as well as to himself. As Professor A. K. 
Rogers wisely says, "A man who actually does something worth 
while for the world is in almost every case the man who works 
primarily because he likes it, and not he who flatters himself 
that he is 'doing the world good'"."^^ 

X. Freedom and Responsibility 

The student of ethics makes it one of his fundamental assump- 
tions that men are morally responsible for what they do. If this 
were not true, moral judgments would have no justification. 
We do not think of the motions of plants and inanimate objects 
and the behavior of animals as moral or immoral. If everything 
that a man does were mechanically determined, like the rolling 
of a stone down hill, logically we could neither praise nor blame 
him for anything that he did, nor pass a moral judgment of any 
kind on him. If he did something annoying, society might im- 
prison him or execute him, in order to get him out of the way, 
just as one would pull up a weed by the roots, and either confine 
or kill a dangerous dog, without implying any moral censure 
of the weed or dog. But it would obviously be absurd to treat 
a rational human being in such a manner. 

Our general practice is, to hold adult human beings morally 
responsible for their actions, provided that they are sane, and 
under no unusual or abnormal coercion. This practice assumes 
Psychological Freedom, i.e., a person's actions are the outcome 
of his own mental processes, so that it is his own self that has 
decided them. So Psychological Freedom and Moral Respon- 
sibility can be regarded as synonymous : each implies the other, 
and the absence of either implies the absence of the other. 

The technical criteria for determining whether an adult is 
sane and morally responsible for his acts, lie within the fields 
of law and medicine, and cannot be outlined here. In law, some 
allowance is made for those who do wrongful acts under extreme 
provocation, under circumstances in which a normal person 
might be expected to be unduly excited, and complete self-con- 



276 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

trol to have been impossible. Such considerations mitigate 
the severity of penalties, since the crime was not willful, mali- 
cious, or premeditated. Children are held morally responsible 
for what they do in proportion to their age and experience. A 
common sense criterion is whether the child realizes clearly 
the rightfulness or wrongfulness of a given action. This should 
as a rule decide whether he deserves moral praise or blame with 
reference to it. 

Freedom of the will, when defined as psychological freedom and 
moral responsibility, has been affirmed by the moral judgments 
of human society in all ages, and has the authority of all respon- 
sible writers on Ethics. This is the prior fact, to be recognized. 
The only question in which dispute is possible is the nature of 
human freedom. ^^ 

In ethical theory, there have been two different schools on 
the question of the nature of human freedom, the determinists 
and the indeterminists. The position of the former is, whenever 
a person is free, his actions are determined by his own mental 
processes exclusively, i.e., his own impulses, instincts, habits, 
sentiments, and self, in such a way that he, being the tj^pe of 
person he is, could not have acted otherwise than as he did. 
He might have acted otherwise so far as external conditions 
dictated. If he were an honest man he could not steal the purse, 
let us say, because of his character; while if he were a weak and 
self-indulgent man now hard up, it would be impossible for him 
to resist the temptation to appropriate it, given the opportunity. 
This doctrine is not mechanical determinism, which no serious 
writer in ethics can maintain: a man is not a weed or a dog, 
much less a stone or a clod: his actions are not determined as 
theirs are. On the contrary, this view is self-det€r?ninism, or 
teleological determinism: a person's actions are determined by 
his self and his purposes, — by the kind of character he has, and 
the plans and ideals that actuate his life. It is just because he 
is a person, and his actions are determined by his personality, 
that they are praiseworthy or blameworthy. The reader will 
note that the advocates of self-determinism fully recognize 



THE SELF 277 

psychological freedom and moral responsibility, and endeavor 
to account for it. 

Indeterminists advance a different explanation of psycho- 
logical freedom and moral responsibility. Each time a person 
makes a choice, his decision is not entirely determined by his 
heredity, environment, and previously acquired habits. On 
the contrary, there is a locus of free choice before him, affording 
alternatives between which he can make a selection independent 
of his heredity, environment, and habits. To be sure, this locus 
is restricted. A person will ultimately decide upon that course 
of action to which he gives most attention; but he can to some 
extent choose to what he will give attention. On a certain day, 
two boys have before them options, to go to school or to idle 
in the streets. Each boy is free to select, — neither heredity, 
environment, nor past choices absolutely determine his decision, 
although of course they influence it. John chooses to go to 
school, Thomas to be idle. Next day, the same two options face 
the two boys. John and Thomas repeat their choices of the 
previous day. In time, it becomes habitual for John to go to 
school and for Thomas to play truant. Some years afterward, 
John has before him two options, to go to college or to enter 
business. Thomas also has two options, to take a job at un- 
skilled labor or to become a pickpocket. The two boys no 
longer have the same options; each has by his past decisions de- 
termined the general course of his development and the locus of 
possible future choices open to him. Yet, throughout every 
man's life, situations occur which are not wholly determined 
by the past, and which afford him a locus of possible choices. 
The way in which he makes these choices largely decides his 
future character and prospects. We make the habits which 
in later life bind us for good and for evil. We are the architects 
of our own fortunes. 

Neither determinism nor indeterminism is an entirely satis- 
factory explanation of the psychological freedom and moral 
responsibility which both affirm. The determinist finds it 
difficult to show that the "self-determination" of which he 



278 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

speaks affords the individual any real choice after all. Is he not 
the slave of his own self? Could he possibly have done other- 
wise than he did; and if not, is he really free? On the other 
hand, the indeterminist finds some difficulty in meeting the 
charge of believing in chance. If a person's decisions are not 
determined by his character, what does govern his choice? 
Himself? If so, indeterminism becomes determinism. If not, 
then the decisions are effected by some alien and contingent 
force which is not the person's own impulses, sentiments, and 
character, and over which it is hard to see that the man has any 
real control. The author does not profess to know how to solve 
such difficulties as these. Determinists solve them to their own 
satisfaction in one way, and indeterminists in another. The 
literature on the subject is voluminous, and much of it is very 
interesting. The reader will find himself convinced by either 
position if he takes care not to read much on the other side.^^ 
The author is disposed to what he believes to be an healthy 
agnosticism on the issue between determinism and indetermin- 
ism. Our wills certainly are free in the sense that we are morally 
responsible. Our whole social life takes this for granted, and 
human society could not remain on the basis it now is and 
always has been if it were not true. Otherwise we could not 
praise or condemn ourselves or anyone else for anything any- 
one ever did, and it would be impossible to make moral judg- 
ments at all. There could be no such study as ethics. The very 
fact that society has proceeded successfully on the hypothesis 
that men are morally responsible when their actions are deter- 
mined by their own mental processes is a practical proof that 
the hypothesis must be true. And if ethical theory has thus 
far failed to explain how it is true, ethics is in no worse case 
than the more developed special sciences. No mathematician 
knows what space and time are, yet there is a science of mathe- 
matics. No physicist knows what matter and energy are; no 
biologist knows what life is. Psychologists are undecided 
whether theirs is a science of behavior or of consciousness ; and 
no psychologist knows what either of these are. Economists 



THE SELF 279 

cannot define value satisfactorily; political scientists cannot 
answer many questions as to the ultimate nature of the state; 
sociologists do not know what society is. Yet each of these 
sciences has been highly successful; and no reasonable person 
doubts that there are such things as space, time, matter, energy, 
behavior, consciousness, value, society, and the state. So 
we may not feel unduly disturbed at the fact that ethics cannot 
explain, and yet has to assume, the fact of moral obligation and 
freedom. 

Ethical Freedom must be carefully distinguished from the 
psychological freedom already discussed. We are only free 
ethically when we decide to do what is right, — in other words, 
to do what is the expression of our entire selves. And since we are 
social beings, this means that an ethically free act is in accord- 
ance with the common good, with social welfare. Hasty acts 
prompted by isolated but violent impulses are neither ethically 
free nor rational, although we are psychologically free when we 
perform them, and it is right that we are held morally responsible 
for them. Ethical freedom is an ideal, which each of us realizes 
more or less imperfectly. If a man in his every act expressed a 
complete coordination of all of his impulses, under the guidance 
of the virtues, and if he lived in a society where every one else 
did likewise, he would be ethically free in a complete sense. To 
this ideal goal individuals and society are slowly and painfully 
advancing. The progress will be more rapid if each of us 
exercises his psychological freedom, in the choices he makes, 
in the direction of the highest self-realization and ethical free- 
dom for himself and the common good of humanity. It will 
also be more rapid if progress is made in social amelioration, 
so that each individual will be afforded educational, industrial, 
and economic opportunity to develop his talents fully. Even 
in our present imperfect social order, the great economic progress 
since the industrial revolution has made available to the masses 
more material comforts and more educational and cultural 
opportunities than were ever accessible to the entire population 
of any nation in previous history. So the vast majority of man- 



280 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

kind, at least in America, are to-day enjoying more real free- 
dom — in the sense of opportunity for self-realization — than was 
ever the case in the past. We should not congratulate our- 
selves over much, however. There is still a great deal of room 
for improvement. Our country as well as the rest of the world 
is full of social injustices, and denial of freedom and opportunity 
commensurate with the resources of modern civilization. 

REFERENCES 

* J. Dewey and J. H. Tufts, Ethics, chap. XVIII. 

* M. W. Calkins, The Good Man mid the Good, chap. II. 

* Warner Fite, An Introductory Theory of Ethics, chap. XI. 

* H. W. Wright, Self -Realization, Part III. 

* William James, Principles of Psychology, chap. X. Briefer Course, 

chap. XXVI. 

* C. L. Sherman, The Moral Self, chaps. VI, VII. 

* Hastings Rashdall, Theory of Good and Evil, Book II, chaps. II, III. 
J. A. Leighton, Man and the Cosmos, Book IV. 

T. H. Green, Prolegomena to Ethics. 

F. H. Bradley, Ethical Studies. 

W. E. Hocking, Human Nature and its Remaking. 

Warner Fite, Moral Philosophy. 

J. E. Turner, The Philosophic Basis of Moral Obligation, chap. IX- 

XII. 
Paul Fauconnet, La Responsabilite. 

Numerous other references, popular and technical, will be found 
in the Notes to this chapter at the end of the volume. 



PART III 
SYSTEMATIC ETHICS 



CHAPTER XI 
INTUITIONISM 

I. Classification of Ethical Systems 

Each of the great classical systems of ethics has been an 
attempted philosophical explanation of the nature and signif- 
icance of moral judgments. Each system has in its own way 
offered solutions of problems that can be brought under four 
general heads: (1) the explanation of the objective character 
of moral judgments in view of their source in the mind, and the 
process by which they are discerned; (2) the criterion by which 
the moral is distinguished from the unmoral and the immoral; 

(3) the relationship between the individual and society, and 
upon which of the latter two emphasis should be placed; and 

(4) the psychology of moral conduct. 

The last of these four heads has been discussed in the pre- 
ceding Part, and will only be noticed here as consideration of 
other problems necessarily involves it. Regarding the first 
of the heads, all moral philosophers have in some way recog- 
nized the objective character of moral judgments, and have in- 
sisted that moral obligation is not a matter of subjective caprice, 
but that ethical principles hold alike for all. The systems have 
differed greatly, however, as to the source in the mind through 
which moral principles are known. Intuitionism has main- 
tained that the basis of moral judgments is to be found in a 
kind of mental perception; the mind directly cognizes the dis- 
tinction between good and evil, much as it perceives the differ- 
ence between blue and yellow, or between identity and differ- 
ence. While the source of moral judgments is attributed to a 
native capacity of the mind, intuitionists have differed among 
themselves as to how much of the content of morality is im- 

283 



284 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

mediately perceived, — whether a considerable portion, or little 
more than the abstract distinction between "good" and "bad", 
"right" and "wrong", "ought" and "ought not". For the 
intuitionist, moral distinctions when rightly apprehended are 
objective. Although they are recognized by a capacity of the 
mind, their validity does not depend on the accuracy with 
which particular individuals apprehend them. 7X9=63; if 
some school boys calculate the product to be 62 or 64, this does 
not alter the truth in the case. In a similar way, moral prin- 
ciples hold absolutely; once an individual has correctlj^ per- 
ceived the elements of right and wrong by intuition, and has 
made the proper application to his own problems, he should go 
ahead and do his duty, without much regard for consequences 
to himself or to others.^ 

Opposed to Intuitionism are the diverse systems that do not 
put their reliance on any innate capacity of the mind for moral 
intuition or perception; but instead insist on the necessity of 
calculating the probable consequences that ivould follow from the 
performance of this or that action. General rules, of course, are 
permissible; and since exceptions, if too frequent, would lead 
to more harm than good, they should be rare. But the general 
rules themselves hold because they lead to the best results in 
the long run. In systems of this type, therefore, the proper end 
of all human action is first defined; the morality of general 
rules and specific actions is then determined with reference to 
whether they will promote this end. Such systems are therefore 
called teleological (from telos, end or purpose). Ethical Hedonism 
(from hedone, pleasure) is the kind of teleological ethics that 
finds the supreme end of all moral conduct in the maximum 
of pleasure and minimum of unpleasantness. Acts are accord- 
ingly judged right or wrong in the light of their probable con- 
sequences with reference to this end; sentiments and habits are 
virtuous provided they favor it, and vicious if they do not. 
Egoistic Hedonism maintains that the sole concern of any in- 
dividual should be to gain most pleasure and least unpleasant- 
ness for himself. The ancient Cyrenaics affirmed this doctrine 



INTUITIONISM 285 

with little thought of social consequences. Thomas Hobbes 
(t 1679) and others who have maintained a similar view in 
modern times have believed that each individual is impelled to 
seek exclusively his own pleasure (psychological hedonism), 
and that if everybody would only calculate intelligently how he 
can best obtain it, and would act consistently with this end in 
view, the general condition of mankind would be greatly im- 
proved. Universalistic Hedonism, more commonly known as 
Utilitarianism on the other hand, teaches that the criterion 
of human morality, by which every individual should be guided 
in his personal conduct, is that which will bring most pleasure 
and least unpleasantness to humanity in general. 

The teleological systems that do not accept the hedonistic 
criterion have received various designations, common among 
which are Eudxmonism, Perfectionism, Energism, and *Se//- 
realizationism. Eudsemonism will be the term adopted in this 
volume to designate them. (The word comes from the eudai- 
monia of Aristotle, see page 117 above.) Pleasure and the ab- 
sence of unpleasantness is conceived by writers of this type to 
be either an inadequate or a false designation of the supreme 
end of human conduct, which latter had better be called welfare, 
perfection, self-realization, (or possibly happiness, provided the 
meaning of this word is not that given to it by hedonists who 
confuse it with pleasure). A man should seek the symmetrical 
development of all of his capacities ; the virtues should be culti- 
vated and coordinated in a coherent self; such an end is good in 
itself, and not merely because its attainment is likely to be 
attended by a pleasant life. Pleasure is not the most important 
aspect of welfare; the realization of all one's capacities is more 
essential. It might be possible for eudaemonism to assume an 
egoistic form, viz.: — each individual should concern himself 
exclusively with his own highest development or welfare. But 
as a matter of history, nearly all eudsemonists have been 
universalistic, teaching that in order to judge what is good and 
bad the individual must act in accordance with the general 
rules that have been found by experience most likely to further 



286 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 



the welfare of mankind universally. So in this volume, "eudse- 
monism" and "eudaemonia" will be understood to refer to 
the universalistic form of the doctrine. 

It is therefore possible to give a rough classification of most 
ethical systems in a comparatively simple table. Taking as 
the first principle of division, the source of moral judgments, 
Intuitionism may be distinguished from Teleological Systems. 
The latter can be subdivided according to the moral criterion 
recognized, into Hedonism and Eudsemonism, each of which, in 
accordance with the relative emphasis on the individual or on 
society, falls into Egoistic and Universalistic varieties. 



Ethical 

Systems 



Intuitionism 



' Hedonism 



Teleological 

Systems 



! Egoistic Hedonism 
Utilitarianism 



{[Egoistic Eudaemonism] 
[Universalistic] Eudsemonism 



Classifications of this kind are common in texts on ethics, 
and they are convenient. Without some sort of classification 
the great variety of standpoints held by moral philosophers 
would be hopelessly bewildering, and it would be impossible to 
compare them. The classification just given calls attention to 
some of the most important issues in the history of ethics as 
well as at the present time, and it discloses the more important 
standpoints taken on these issues. But any classification has 
its limitations. Some of the greatest moral philosophers have 
been more concerned with other problems than the ones on 
which this classification is based. Furthermore, no tabulation 
can give any idea of the inspiring personalities of many great 
philosophers, the beauty of their literary style, and their 
penetrating insight into the problems of life. The following 
account of some of the principal problems in systematic ethics 
cannot serve as a substitute for an acquaintance with the 



INTUITIONISM 287 

writings of the great masters themselves. It is hoped that it 
may prove an incitement to their study. 

II. Intuitionism and Common Sense 

A simple form of Intuitionism bases its argument upon plain 
common sense. Most moral judgments, so it is urged, are 
obvious to any one with reasonable intelligence. They do not 
need to be demonstrated, because they are self-evident. Every- 
body with the slightest powers of moral perception knows that 
it is wrong to lie and to steal, to commit murder and adultery, 
to be envious, covetous, and malicious. On the contrary, it is 
equally certain that it is good and right to be brave, truthful, 
chaste, generous, loyal, wise, and just. Every man has a natural 
right to what is his own, — including his life, his liberty, his 
family, his property, and his reputation. It is clear that every 
one should claim these rights for himself, and respect them in 
others. Such moral judgments are included within the Golden 
Rule, that a person should treat others as he wishes them to 
treat him. Moreover, if a man knows that it is his duty to do 
this thing or that, he should go ahead and do it regardless of 
consequences to himself or to others. And he should do it from 
good motives, — because he knows that it is the right thing to do, 
not because he can profit by it in some way. Most moral judg- 
ments are self-evident, and are perceived by any honest and 
unprejudiced person as clearly as the differences between black 
and white, sweet and sour, that a whole is greater than a part, 
and that it is impossible for something to be both A and not 
to be A in the same sense and at the same time and place. This 
is because man has a moral sense or faculty, or conscience, by 
which he perceives the difference between right and wrong and 
feels the force of moral obligation. 

Such common sense Intuitionism as has been sketched in the 
preceding paragraph may be criticized in various ways. If 
correct moral judgments are axiomatic, why is it that they have 
not been universally recognized? Some savages think that 
stealing and killing are meritorious. There is, or used to be, a 



288 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

religious order in India devoted to such activities, known as the 
Thugs. Cannibalism is common in the savage world. In 
Borneo there are tribes of head-hunters who regard as a hero 
a man who has intrepidly slipped into the territory of hostile 
neighboring tribes and returned with an armful of bleeding 
heads of women and little children. Perhaps all races have 
always regarded chastity as a virtue; but the kinds of conduct 
which it implies have certainly been extremely diverse, when we 
take into account group marriage, polygamy, concubinage, and 
temple prostitution. 

To a large extent conflicting moral judgments are to be found 
among ourselves. Conscientious people disagree on whether 
it is right to play golf and go motoring on Sunday afternoons, to 
eat meat on Fridays, or pork at any time. A few thoughtful 
people believe that defensive warfare and the execution of 
murderers are wrong. Patriotism is denounced by some re- 
formers as "vicious nationalism". There are people who think 
that the ceremony of marriage is an evil custom, and who defend 
the righteousness of free love. Perhaps it is axiomatic that 
"every one has a right to his own"; but if one were to cite this 
maxim to prove that wholesale confiscation or expropriation of 
private property would be wrong, there are radicals who would 
reply that all wealth belongs to the people collectively, that all 
private ownership of property is theft, and that all exactions of 
rent, interest, and profit are forms of robbery. Even the Golden 
Rule can be construed (mistakenly, of course) to teach that a 
man has a right to engage in what other people call sins and 
vices because he is willing and desirous that others should 
participate in them along with him. 

In cases like these, where conflicting moral judgments are 
asserted with sincerity, it would appear impossible to claim that 
the correct moral judgments are as obvious as plain common 
sense, and are intuitively known by all persons of moderate 
intelligence through a native capacity of the mind. The 
Intuitionist might reply that those who make erroneous moral 
judgments reason incorrectly. The simple principles of morality 



INTUITIONISM 289 

are clear, but it is possible, especially when blinded by passion 
or prejudice, to misapply them in false deductions. To affirm 
this, however, is to concede that the fundamental principles 
known intuitively do not cover all cases in an obvious manner, 
and that it often takes mature experience and trained reasoning 
powers to apply them correctly. There are accordingly limits 
to the scope of Intuitionism in its role of axiomatic common 
sense. 

III. Intuitionism and Conscience 

Intuitionists sometimes urge that a man's conscience is an 
authoritative guide to right conduct. The ordinary precepts of 
morality, such as the Ten Commandments and the Golden 
Rule, are quite clear and intelligible, in their applications to 
the affairs of everyday life. Our consciences, guided by these 
precepts, tell us clearly enough what we ought to do in most 
of our daily activities. It is only when some unusual problem 
arises that we are in doubt, and in such instances we should seek 
the counsel of those who have had more experience than our- 
selves. The plain man, for instance, knows that he ought to 
pay for goods that he and his family have purchased at a retail 
store. That is obvious. But just what are a man's rights and 
his obligations in a complicated contract, when new conditions 
have arisen that were not foreseen when the contract was drawn 
up, and about which nothing was stipulated? He can perhaps 
find out his legal rights and obligations by consulting attorneys. 
If he is conscientious, however, this will not suffice. He will 
not only wish to know the law in the matter, but what in the 
general practice of the trade has been regarded as equitable 
under the circumstances. He will ask the opinions of others in 
whose judgment he has confidence, in order to decide what he 
ought to do. He does not wish to take advantage of legal 
technicalities, but to act fairly and honorably. 

Intuitionists are largely right here. Most of us know well 
enough what we ought to do in most of our daily activities. 
True, it is only when some unusual problem arises that we are 



290 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

in doubt, and in such instances we can and should always ask 
the advice of those who have had more experience. However, 
Intuitionism overlooks the real reason why many moral judg- 
ments appear self-evident and obligatory, and why we spon- 
taneously pronounce them. Comparative ethics shows that 
such judgments are part of the moral tradition that is handed 
down, with comparatively slight modifications, from one genera- 
tion to another. Intuitionism has sometimes given the impres- 
sion that there is something almost infallible about the deliver- 
ances of our consciences. On the contrary, our consciences 
are simply the products of our social environments and our 
past experiences. To be sure, they are usually right and ought 
to be followed, especially if the only reason for not doing so is 
some personal impulse or passion which probably could not be 
rationally justified. For when the dictates of conscience are 
in opposition to strong inclinations, it is tempting to try to 
refute them by means of pseudo-rationalizations. 

Intuitionism is warranted in insisting that the dictates of 
conscience ought not to be disregarded unless there are sound 
logical grounds for isuspecting them. And the individual cannot 
easily discover these grounds alone. He should seek the counsel 
of other persons who are wiser and better informed, and ascer- 
tain whether his reasons for challenging the moral tradition, 
as voiced by his own conscience, are convincing to them. He 
may find that there are better grounds for the moral tradition 
than he had suspected. The presumption should alwaj^s be in 
favor of conscience and tradition; in this intuitionism is right. 
Yet conscience and tradition are sometimes wrong. When this 
is the case, reflective criticism will discover it. But reflective 
criticism will always, if it is sound, convince other persons who 
are competent to judge. And it must be remembered that an 
unreliable conscience is a serious moral liability; its deliverances 
are not to be trusted, however intuitive and axiomatic they 
may appear to be to its possessor. Every one's conscience is 
at times fallible. Whenever a person has occasion to suspect 
that his conscience may be at fault, his remed}' is to appeal to 



INTUITIONISM 291 

the reflective criticism of others. Thus he will grow in moral 
discernment and his conscience will become trained. 

IV. Ethical Axioms 

Henry Sidgwick, (f 1900) though in the main a Utilitarian, 
conceded to Intuitionism that there are three ethical axioms 
known by intuition to have real clearness and certainty. The 
axiom of Justice he stated thus: "whatever action any of us 
judges to be right for himself, he implicitly judges to be right 
for all similar persons in similar circumstances", or more 
briefly, "similar cases should be treated similarly". His second 
axiom, that of Prudence, is "I ought not to prefer a present 
lesser good to a future greater good", but show "impartial con- 
cern for all parts of [my] conscious life". The third axiom, 
that of Benevolence, is "I ought not to prefer my own lesser 
good to the greater good of another", since "each one is morally 
bound to regard the good of any other individual as much as 
his own, except in so far as he judges it to be less, when im- 
partially viewed, or less certainly knowable and attainable by 
him". These three axioms Sidgwick believed to be as intuitive 
and self-evident as the mathematical axiom that "if equals be 
added to equals the wholes are equal ".^ 

The truth and fundamental importance of these three axioms 
or principles in our modern moral life (organized as it is in 
terms of Citizenship) is indisputable. However, the principle 
of Benevolence could hardly have been accepted (unless under- 
stood in a quite different way) in a highly aristocratic civiliza- 
tion; while it seems doubtful whether any of the three would 
have seemed very clear, let alone self-evident, in times of prim- 
itive turbulence and confusion. We might imagine the writers 
of the biblical book of Proverbs gravely assenting to these 
three axioms, but could the people who lived in the times of 
the Judges even have understood them? 

Sidgwick probably would not have been disturbed by such 
an objection. He discovered these three axioms himself only 
as the result of a profound and extended investigation into the 



292 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

methods of ethics. He might have been wilhng to agree that, 
hke the fundamental principles of mathematics, ethical axioms 
are first discovered by the scholar, and only afterwards ap- 
prehended by persons of some intelligence. But he might have 
added that when they are once brought to the attention of the 
trained mind, their axiomatic and logically irrefutable character 
becomes manifest. 

It may further be observed that these axioms are highly ab- 
stract, and treat chiefly of the quantitative side of ethics. 
They do not state what is good in specific instances. They 
merely teach that a greater amount of good, whenever, or 
wherever, or to whomever it is available, is always morally 
preferable to a lesser amount; persons, places, and times are to 
be viewed impartially. It seems to us to-day that the highest 
form of social organization is that of Citizenship, and that it 
will never be succeeded by a form that would be indifferent to 
moral axioms like these. We may therefore accept Sidgwick's 
three axioms as certainly true to-day, and probably true for 
all future human ethics. 

V. Abstract Ethics 

Various writers (some of whom would not on other points 
be classified as Intuitionists) affirm that the ultimate basis of 
moral judgments rests on certain simple intuitions that are 
axiomatic and not further analyzable. " Good ", "right ", " bet- 
ter", "ought", and their opposites are instances. They cannot 
be reduced to anything else, such as "pleasure", "unpleasant- 
ness", "ultimate interest", and the like. In this thej' are 
comparable to simple sensations, and to the axioms of math- 
ematics. 

Such intuitions are occasionally reported even among the 
lowest savages. For instance, Howitt reports that he once dis- 
cussed with a young Australian savage whether it would not be 
right for him, if he were hungry, to eat prohibited food during 
an initiation ceremony provided that no one knew about it. 
He replied, "I could not do that; it would not be right." He 



INTUITIONISM 293 

insisted that it would not be right, although he could give no 
other reason except that it would be wrong to disregard the 
customs of his people.^ Probably all human beings but no 
lower animals have intuitions like this. 

On the basis of a few intuitions — axioms and postulates — 
mathematicians are able to deduce elaborate systems. Author- 
ities are not agreed in all respects with just which axioms and 
postulates they shall begin ; but other principles can be deduced 
in any event from those assumed to be rudimentary, and each 
of the various systems derived can successfully explain our spa- 
tial and temporal experiences. Would it be possible, in a simi- 
lar way to start from axiomatic moral principles and derive a 
comprehensive system of ethics? The advocates of what it 
will be, convenient to denominate Abstract Ethics have believed 
that this question should be answered affirmatively. The pro- 
cedure of Spinoza (f 1677) is the most famous modern classical 
instance. Starting with highly abstract axioms, postulates, and 
definitions he proceeded in the course of five books of theorems 
to outline a system of ethics, employing a method imitative of 
geometry. However, as critics point out, before the end of the 
fifth book Spinoza had unconsciously modified many of the 
conceptions with which he began. Besides, in the course of the 
argument he was obliged to inject many new principles. What 
he really did was to supplement a few intuitions with a wide 
range of added information. The latter he in no way math- 
ematically deduced from these intuitions, but drew from his 
empirically obtained knowledge of science and of life. 

Contemporary representatives of abstract ethics are more 
cautious than Spinoza. They admit that after the ultimate 
ethical principles have been carefully discriminated, only a 
portion of ethics can be logically derived from them, and that 
chiefly on the purely logical and quantitative sides. It is nec- 
essary to look to experience — away from abstract to concrete 
ethics — to determine the actual content of the good, and how it 
can be obtained. 

It is not yet certain what, or how many ultimate intuitive 



294 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

principles should be recognized, nor what are the types of good 
to be brought under them. Does the good, for instance, in- 
clude the virtues, or are virtues merely instruments for obtain- 
ing it? Is character an intrinsic and ultimate good? Is this 
true of love, aesthetic experience, or social justice? If very 
much content is brought within the intuitive good, it will be 
hard to derive it logically and mathematically from elementary 
principles. If virtues, duties, and character are excluded from 
the intuitively known good, and classified as merely means for 
gaining it, the content of abstract ethics becomes rather slight, 
obvious, and unimportant, and almost the whole subject matter 
of the ordinary book on ethics proves to be concrete ethics. 
Concrete ethics, it is agreed, must derive its observations from 
a study of the actual problems and conditions of life and con- 
duct, aided by the empirical sciences, such as psychology, 
sociology, and economics. Since concrete ethics cannot be de- 
rived from abstract ethics it becomes clear that the value of the 
latter is considerably restricted. 

We concede to the advocates of abstract ethics that the ulti- 
mate principles of ethics, which all moral judgments imply, are 
intuitions that cannot be further analyzed, but are self-evident 
and must be accepted. "Good", "right", and "ought" are 
examples. However, we do know something about the proc- 
esses of evolution that brought these moral intuitions into 
existence. What particular acts will be attached to these 
moral intuitions in the case of any individual? This depends 
chiefly on the moral tradition by which he had been surrounded. 
We know to some extent how that moral tradition has arisen 
and grown in Europe and in countries settled b}^ Europeans dur- 
ing the past three thousand years under Hebrew, Greek, Roman, 
Christian, and modern secular influences. We can form some 
idea of the service which that moral tradition has rendered in 
the past, what have been some of its limitations, and how it 
can further be criticized and perhaps improved. We know to 
some extent how the child of to-day in a civilized society ac- 
quires a moral consciousness or conscience, and how it grows. 



INTUITIONISM 295 

We know that an individual is aware of a moral struggle when 
there is a conflict between his impulses. We know how his 
impulses become organized into sentiments, some of which are 
virtues and others of which are vices. We know that the sense 
of duty and the voice of conscience are experienced on the side 
of the virtues that most adequately express the whole self or 
character of the individual as he would have it be. We there- 
fore are beginning to understand under what circumstances the 
moral consciousness is handed down from one generation to an- 
other, how it takes root and develops for good and for bad in 
the minds of individuals, how it should be trained, and made 
better. Successful moral and social education in our age will 
hasten moral progress.^ 

VI. Motives 

Intuitionism places emphasis on the motives that prompt 
men to act. For Kant an act can have moral value only if it 
is done from the motive of doing what is right. Actions from 
other motives are either unmoral or immoral. Other Intuition- 
ists have usually been less rigorous, and have attributed moral 
worth to several motives. James Martineau (f 1900) made a 
famous classification of motives in the order of their compara- 
tive ethical merit, which (condensed) is : 

Lowest 

1. Censoriousness, Vindictiveness, Suspiciousness 

2. Love of Ease and Sensual Pleasure 

3. Appetites 

4. Spontaneous Activity 

5. Love of Gain 

6. Sentimental indulgence of sympathetic feelings 

7. Antipathy, Fear, Resentment 

8. Love of Power or Ambition; Love of Liberty 

9. Love of Culture 

10. Wonder and Admiration 

11. Parental and Social Affections; Generosity; Gratitude 

12. Compassion 

13. Reverence 

Highest 



296 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

In accordance with this table, Martineau beUeved that he 
could formulate an exact definition of Right and Wrong : "Every 
action is right, which, in presence of a lower principle, follows 
a higher; every action is wrong, which, in presence of a higher 
principle, follows a lower."^ He gives various illustrations. 
Regulus was right in returning to death at Carthage, because 
the Reverence for veracity which prompted him to do so was a 
higher motive than Fear or personal Affection, which might 
have prompted him to do otherwise. Peter was wrong in deny- 
ing Christ because the Fear to which he yielded was lower than 
the motives of personal Affection and Reverence for Truth which 
he disregarded. The act of missionaries of mercy, like Florence 
Nightingale and Livingstone, is right because impelled by Com- 
passion, a higher motive than Love of Ease or of self Culture. 
The manufacturer of adulterated or falsely labeled goods acts 
wrongly, because he is moved by Love of Gain, an inferior in- 
centive to good faith and Reverence for Truth. Only the lowest 
motives in the table are invariably wrong and only the highest 
invariably right ; in the case of the others it is a matter of com- 
parison. It is well to choose a vocation in life in which choices 
will usually be between motives high rather than low in the 
scale. 

A little reflection will convince us that the morality of ac- 
tions cannot always be decided by reference to this table. For 
one thing, motives are often mixed, and a person might feel im- 
pelled to one action by motives both very high and very low in 
the scale, and to a contrary action by motives Ijing in between. 
(E.g., combined resentment and reverence for justice might 
prompt one to prosecute a wrong doer, while compassion might 
influence one in his favor.) Moreover, as recent psychology 
has taught us, it is hard for a person to know his real motives, 
especially when he is under the sway of strong emotions, and 
it is easy for him through pseudo-rationalizations to deceive 
himself as to their true character. Again, there are times when 
it is right to act in accordance with a motive lower rather than 
one higher in the scale. A person must at times satisfy his 



INTUITIONISM 297 

appetites for f-ood and rest and his love of gain if at other times 
he is to be in a physical and economic condition to indulge in 
love of culture and generosity. 

However, Martineau's table, while by no means infallible, 
is often useful. It gives recognition to the importance of mo- 
tives and of character. In planning our lives and in consider- 
ing social problems, it is of some service to have such a test 
before us. Other considerations that would have to supple- 
ment this test and would sometimes overrule it, would be the 
effects upon one's life as a whole, and upon other persons, that 
a contemplated action might produce. 

VII. Conclusion 

Intuitionism can be credited with many merits. It rightly 
calls attention to the fact that in the ordinary affairs of life a 
man can trust his conscience and his common sense to tell him 
what it is right for him to do. These are often likely to guide 
him better than an ethical formula, which he might not rightly 
apply. Intuitionism has always put great emphasis upon purity 
of motives and integrity of character. A man is not likely to 
go far wrong if he acts with a clear conscience from motives 
that he knows to be good, and if he seeks the counsel of others 
whom he deems competent in regard to matters with which he 
is inexperienced. 

It must be conceded, too, that there are intuitive principles 
underlying all ethical theory. "Good" and "bad" cannot be 
defined in terms of anything else. The sense of duty, too, is 
unique and unanalyzable. The intrinsic worth of the virtues 
is known intuitively. There are certain moral axioms that can 
be apprehended intuitively. 

On the other hand, Intuitionism is in some ways superficial. 
It cannot afford a complete point of view for ethics. The con- 
science of the plain man is not infallible. The student of ethics 
needs to understand the origin of the deliverances of conscience 
and how to criticize them reflectively. While perceptions of 
goodness and duty are unique and unanalyzable experiences, 



298 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

it is illuminating to know the conditions under which these 
experiences emerge in the evolution of the race and the develop- 
ment of individual life. Intuitions cannot serve as a substitute 
for the study of comparative and psychological ethics. More- 
over, moral axioms, like those of Sidgwick, are of limited practi- 
cal application, and at best cover only the quantitative side 
of ethics, the side on which there usually is least difficulty. 
Attempts to deduce a system of ethics from intuitive principles 
like those underlying mathematics and formal logic have thus 
far proved limited in their usefulness. 

In this chapter little attention has been given to the more 
formal type of Intuitionism, that seeks to discover intuitively 
some one principle that can be applied to all moral problems 
universally. The most famous attempt to do this will be dis- 
cussed in the following chapter. 

REFERENCES 

* F. Thilly, Introduction to Ethics, chaps. II-IV. 

* W. Fite, An Introductory Study of Ethics, chap. IX. 

* M. W. Calkins, The Good Man and the Good, chap. I. 

* H. Rashdall, Theory of Good and Evil, Book I, chap. IV. 

* Durant Drake, Problems of Conduct, chap. VI. 
A. K. Rogers, Morals in Review, chap. XII. 

James Martineau, Types of Ethical Theory, Part II, Book I. 
Henry Sidgwick, Methods of Ethics, Book III. 
G. E. Moore, Principia Ethica. Ethics. 



CHAPTER XII 
FORMAL ETHICS: KANT 

I. Intuitionism and Formalism 

Formal Ethics, or Formalism, is usually classified as a species 
of Intuitionism. A formula in mathematics or logic is literally- 
formal; it has no specific content of its own, but will hold true 
of any content to which it may be apphed. " If equals be added 
to equals, the result will be equal." This formula will apply to 
all finite quantities, no matter what their contents: that is, 
whether the ''equals" referred to are gold coins, diamonds, 
brickbats, or ballots. The law of Contradiction in formal logic 
affirms that two judgments which are logically opposed to each 
other (such as " A is B ", and " A is not B ") cannot both be true. 
There is no need for inquiring to what kinds of objects A and B 
refer; in any case whatsoever, no object or class of objects can 
both be and not be some other object or class of objects. John 
Smith cannot both be and not be a native American; that 
planet cannot both be and not be Mars ; that poem cannot both 
be and not be a sonnet; and so on. 

Suppose the proposition "All S is P" to be true. It follows 
from this, as a matter of purely logical consistency that at 
least some P is S, and that there are no cases of S that are not P. 
It makes no difference in the least to what classes of objects the 
symbols S and P refer. No matter what these may be, provided 
"All S is P ", the other two propositions inevitably follow. Sup- 
pose now, some one informs us that "All the Baganda are 
natives of Uganda". We may never have heard of the Baganda 
before, and we may only have the vaguest notion that such a 
country as Uganda exists somewhere, perhaps in Africa. Never- 
theless we are assured, without knowing anything in detail 
fibout either the Baganda or the country of Uganda, that if the 

299 



300 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

proposition be true, "All the Baganda are natives of Uganda", 
it necessarily follows, as a matter of logical implication and 
consistency, that at least some of the natives of Uganda are 
Baganda, and that there are no Baganda who are not natives of 
Uganda. The implications of the logical formula "All S is P" 
apply to "Baganda", "natives of Uganda" and any other 
content that could possibly be given to S and P, 

Is it possible to find similar formulae in Ethics, — principles 
that must apply to all possible cases that might ever arise, so 
that it would not be necessary to consider details or conse- 
quences or anything else besides the bare form of the action 
so as to bring it under the formal principle? Ethical Formalism 
answers this question affirmatively. It is a kind of Intuitionism, 
because the formal principles adopted are believed to be self- 
evident intuitively, in the same way that the axiomatic prin- 
ciples of mathematics and logic are self-evident; not that everj^ 
child and savage knows them, but that every one with sufficient 
intelligence to understand them will be infallibly convinced of 
their truth, once his attention has been called to them. 

The most successful as well as the most famous attempt to 
construct a system of Formal Ethics was made by Immanuel 
Kant. It will be impossible to consider all aspects of his sj^stem 
of moral philosophy, and attention will be centered on those 
connected in a general way with its formalism. In exposition 
the author will freely advance his own interpretations and il- 
lustrations of what he believes to be Kant's meaning on doubtful 
points. He will offer criticisms of Kant as he proceeds, in the 
endeavor to extract what he believes to be the points of truth 
in Kantian ethics. The reader is advised to be critical of the 
author's evaluations at every point, but to make sure that he 
understands what the author means before he decides whether 
or not to agree with him. 

II. The Categorical Imperative: — First Formulation 

"No thing," says Kant, "can possibly be conceived in the 
world, or even out of it, which can be called good without quaU- 



FORMAL ETHICS: KANT 301 

fication, except a Good Will" (or, as we should say, a good 
character).^ Intelligence and perseverance are often good, but 
not necessarily so; they may be employed in some villainous 
undertaking. Gifts of fortune, like power, riches, honor, and 
even health and happiness, may inspire pride and presumption, 
and therefore not be good. Only a good will can be absolutely 
good, without qualification. Even if through misfortune and 
unfavorable circumstances, this will should be wholly unable to 
accomphsh its purposes, although it summoned all the means 
in its power, still like a jewel, it would shine by its own hght 
as a thing which has its whole value in itself. (We commend 
the goodness of a man who does his best, with all the means 
in his power, to accomplish a worthy end. Even if he completely 
fails, we say that he is a good man and has done his duty. And 
we respect his character and pronounce it of intrinsic value.) 
The good will can be known to be good by the principle on 
which it acts. This principle, the "moral law", is self-evident 
when it is understood. It is Categorical, since it holds absolutely 
and without qualification. It is an Imperative, since it is a com- 
mand that ought to be obeyed. The Categorical Imperative is 
rational, since it is apprehended intuitively by the reason and 
is logically consistent. It is a priori, since it can be known in 
advance to apply to every possible problem that may arise in 
experience. 7+5 = 12; this formula is known a priori, it is 
universal and necessary; whenever seven objects are added 
to five objects the sum will always be twelve. The moral law is 
similarly a priori; it indicates what ought to be done under all 
circumstances. Other imperatives are hypothetical, empirical, 
and a posteriori, since they apply only conditionally and are 
known only posterior to similar experiences that have taken 
place in the past. To do one's duty is a categorical imperative 
that is rational and a priori; one ought to do one's duty under all 
circumstances whatsoever; this is intuitively evident to the 
reason ; it is known to be true in advance of any specific situation 
that may ever come up. On the contrary, what particular kinds 
of food ought to be eaten, because they taste good and afford 



302 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

pleasure, are instances of imperatives that can only be known 
as an outcome of previous experience and so are empirical and a 
posteriori. Such imperatives are hypothetical because there 
is no need of eating them unless one desires the pleasure that 
they afford; there is no moral obligation of any kind in the 
matter. 

Kant states the Categorical Imperative in three different 
ways that need to be distinguished here. The first is this: 
"Act only on that maxim whereby thou canst at the same time will 
that it should become a Universal Law of Nature." (In other 
words, you should always act on principles that you would be 
willing should govern the principles of every one else in all 
places and on all occasions.) Kant gives four illustrations of 
violations of this principle. (1) A man driven to despair by 
successive misfortunes is tempted to commit suicide. The 
Categorical Imperative makes it clear that it will be wrong for 
him to take his own life, because he cannot consistently will it 
to be a universal law of nature that everybody should commit 
suicide; if that were the case there would soon be no person 
left to commit suicide. That would be bad; and a man cannot, 
in the light of this Imperative do himself what he sees that it 
would be wrong for every one else to do. (2) A man in desperate 
financial circumstances is tempted to borrow money, which he 
knows he can only do by promising to repay it in a definite 
time that will be impossible. However, it could not become a 
universal law of nature for everybody to attempt to borrow 
money with false promises; because nobody would ever lend 
money under such conditions. Such a law would be self-con- 
tradictory and could not become universal. A few people can 
borrow money fraudulently only because most people are 
honest and act in good faith. 

His other two illustrations of wrongdoing Kant himseK con- 
cedes are not wholly self-contradictor3^ (3) A man has great 
natural talents which, if cultivated, would render him a useful 
man in many ways. He is tempted not to cultivate them, how- 
ever, because he is lazy. Kant concedes that a society could 



FORMAL ETHICS: KANT 303 

indeed exist (like that of the natives of the South Sea Islands) 
where everybody lived in idleness. But as a rational being, 
Kant says, a man could not will that everybody should live 
in that way. It is wrong for a man to choose for himself a 
manner of living that he would condemn in others, and could 
not desire to become a universal practice. (4) A man in prosper- 
ity sees others about him in wretchedness whom he could easily 
assist, but he declines to do so. Kant says that his action is 
wrong; for while the human race could continue if nobody ever 
helped anybody else, Kant thinks that no rational man would 
wish to live in such a society, because he knows that he may 
some time in his own turn need the help of others. 

In criticism of Kant, it is obvious that the latter two illustra- 
tions are not perfect examples of purely formal logical consist- 
ency. The forbidden acts could theoretically become universal 
laws of nature. We would not wish them to become such, how- 
ever, because they conflict with the kind of society that we 
really want. While not formally inconsistent, these acts are 
inconsistent with our moral tradition and ideals, with the sort 
of persons that we wish others to be, and that therefore we 
ought to strive to be ourselves. 

The first two illustrations might possibly come under the 
test of formal logical consistency. It is obvious that if every 
person committed suicide, presently there would be no persons 
left to do so, and that if everybody attempted to borrow money 
under false representations no one would ever lend money to 
another person. Still, we may well ask Kant whether this is 
really the reason why suicide and fraudulent borrowing are 
wrong. Suppose a man were a thorough pessimist, and believed 
that it would be much better that all human beings should 
perish. Would it not be right for him to take his own life after 
he had persuaded as many other persons as he could to do like- 
wise? Such a man could wish suicide to become a universal 
practice. And if a person were to become thoroughly convinced 
that all private property is the result of fraud and injustice, 
and that the world would be better off without it, ought he not 



304 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

to borrow money fraudulently, and do everjrthing else in his 
power to overthrow the financial system? Such a person would 
be acting on a principle that, if it were to become a universal 
practice, would render loans impossible. The truth of the mat- 
ter seems to be, that those who commit either of these sins do 
not really desire that life or credit should become extinct. 
That is why their actions are wrong; they are inconsistent with 
the continuance of a social order which they know to be good. 
They wish to indulge themselves in ways from which they wish 
other persons to refrain. The cheat wants other men to be 
honest in order that he can exploit them without being taken 
advantage of in his own turn. The suicide wishes other people 
to live and to work for the further advancement of humanity 
while he shirks his own part of the common task. Fraud and 
suicide, in other words, are wrong, but not because they are 
inconsistent with a formal ethical principle like the laws of logic 
and mathematics. They are wrong because they are inconsistent 
with our ideals of life. 

To generalize. Kant in this first formulation of the Categori- 
cal Imperative has not succeeded in discovering a purel}^ formal 
law that will apply to all human conduct a 'priori, independent 
of all experience and consideration of consequences. What he 
has chiefly done is to establish two important principles. (1) 
We ought always to act in a manner harmonious with our ideal 
of what human society should become. (2) As social and ra- 
tional beings we should judge ourselves and other persons im- 
partially ; it is wrong for us to do what it would not be right for 
other persons to do under similar circumstances. However, 
our ideals of human society are necessarily based on an intelli- 
gent criticism of the moral tradition, and so are the result of 
human experience, that of others and of ourselves. These two 
principles are neither formal nor a priori. In considering 
whether what we would like to do would be right for others to 
do also under the same circumstances, we must take all aspects 
of the situation into account, including possible consequences. 
To do this is not formalism. 



FORMAL ETHICS: KANT 305 

III. Humanity as an End in Itself 

Kant's second formulation of the Categorical Imperative is: 
"So act as to treat humanity, whether in thine own person or in 
that of any other, in every case as an end and never as mere means J' 
(In other words, always respect yourself and other people.) 
The same four illustrations of forbidden acts are employed. 
To commit suicide would be inconsistent with the ideal of 
humanity as an end in itself. It would be treating one's own 
self, not as of intrinsic value, but as a thing, a mere means of 
selfish enjoyment. So, when one's life is likely to afford one 
more misery than pleasure, and to be negative from the stand- 
point of personal enjoyment, one is tempted to do away with 
it, and not to respect one's own moral personality. To make 
lying promises to a creditor is to use him as a mere means to 
one's own profit, and not to respect him as a person with moral 
rights equal to one's own. To refuse to develop oneself is 
to lack self-respect; it is to treat one's own person as a mere 
means to idle enjoyment; it is to ignore every man's vocation 
to realize the best that is within him. To refuse to assist others 
is to lack respect for them, and not do what one can to promote 
their welfare. 

In the application of the second version of the Categorical 
Imperative to these illustrations, it is hard to see how Kant 
supposed that he had discovered a purely formal law of logical 
consistency, by which moral judgments can proceed like those 
of mathematics. 7x9 = 63 always; any attempt to make the 
product 62 or 64 is formally inconsistent with the numbers 
employed, and the rules of multiplication. It is unnecessary to 
inquire to what objects 7 and 9 refer; the answer in every case 
is a priori, universal, and necessary. There certainly is nothing 
analogous in Kant's illustrations. In the case of each of them 
the test is not logical consistency. On the contrary the, crite- 
rion is consistency with the moral ideal as we have come to 
recognize it and act upon it, — an ideal that includes respect for 
humanity as an end in itself, and never subordinates one's own 



306 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

personality or that of any other human being to petty ends out 
of harmony with the highest good of self and society. 

With the purely formal element eliminated, and respect for 
personality emphasized, it is possible to accept Kant's second 
formulation of the Categorical Imperative, In this modified 
form it is one of the most fruitful that has ever been advanced 
in ethics. It is capable of endless illustration. The college 
student, the business and professional man and woman, the 
husband, wife, parent, — each may properly ask himself or 
herself: "Am I respecting my own personality and making the 
most of it? Or am I allowing myself through idleness, selfish 
enjoyment, and irrelevant distractions to become less of a real 
person than I owe it to myself and those dearest to me to be- 
come? Am I respecting the personalities of those about me, 
contributing to their happiness when I can, and making it 
easier for them to make the best of their lives? Or am I self- 
ishly exploiting those about me for my own advantage and at 
their real cost? Am I treating them as mere means, or as ends 
in themselves?" 

The principle has been applied since Kant's time to many 
social problems. Slavery was wrong, because the slave was 
exploited for the profit of others, and he was not treated as an 
end in himself. Prostitution is wrong; because in it a woman 
is treated as a mere means to man's pleasure at the cost of the 
degradation of her own personality. The fact that she consents 
to her own degradation only signifies that she also violates the 
moral law, since she does not respect her own personality. 
Free love is wrong; because the man and woman in such a re- 
lation do not truly respect themselves, and they refuse to 
develop their own characters in a manner best in the long run 
for themselves and for society. Drinking and gambhng are 
wrong for similar reasons. Mere idleness in college, or absorp- 
tion in extra-curricular activities to the extent that the student 
cannot get a real liberal or professional education, are cases of 
lack of self-respect. 

Employers who refuse to give workingmen fair wages, reason- 



FORMAL ETHICS: KANT 307 

able hours, protection so far as practicable from accidents while 
at work, and some voice in the direction of the industry at the 
point where it most affects them personally, are treating their 
men as means to their own profit, and not as ends in themselves. 
Workingmen who idle when the foreman is not looking, waste 
materials, break their contracts, and in other ways obstruct 
rather than cooperate in making production efficient, are regard- 
ing their employers as mere means to their own profit, and do 
not accord the respect and thoughtful consideration morally 
due them. 

In political relationships, a corrupt or time serving politician 
fails to respect himself and the community. In the govern- 
ment of colonies, and the guardianship of backward races, the 
moral issue always is: Are the subject peoples respected, treated 
as ends in themselves, given favorable opportunities to develop 
their own capacities? Or are they being treated as mere means, 
mere sources of revenue to outside investors? 

Two corollaries of the principle we have been considering 
may be mentioned in this connection. First, as Kant pointed 
out, it is our duty to promote the happiness of others, not to 
try directly to improve their characters. Character must be a 
development from within, sought by the person himself, and 
not something imposed upon him from without. Ignoring 
character and motives, legislation must be confined to encour- 
aging actions that are desirable, and to discouraging actions 
that are undesirable, in their externally observable effects. 
Laws can forbid murder and theft for instance, and they 
can require children to be sent to school. But laws cannot 
make people benevolent and honest in their motives and in- 
ward characters; laws cannot make people virtuous. It is not 
the business of a college faculty to try to make the students 
good, nor of an employer to make his workmen good, nor of 
a mother country to make its colonists good. Nor is it the 
business of an individual to go about trying to make other 
people good. Did you ever enjoy having some one come to 
you and say that he is "going to do good to you"? Do you 



308 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

enjoy having people, for that matter, try to be very tactful 
with you? On the other, hand, we can endeavor to make exter- 
nal conditions surrounding other persons favorable to moral 
welfare. College trustees and faculties should do what they 
can to make the campus and its surroundings morally whole- 
some and intellectually stimulating. Employers should be 
concerned about the living and working conditions of their 
men. Imperial governments should prevent traffic in spirits 
and opium in backward countries subject to them; they should 
promote sanitation, and afford educational facilities. In our 
own country, there is much difference of opinion as to where 
the line of legitimate govermiiental activity should stop, how 
far it is possible to try to regulate external conditions so as to 
make them favorable for the good life without actually attempt- 
ing to "make people good by law".- 

The other corollary is, that while a person should never treat 
other persons merely as means, it is morally right and proper 
that he should profit in his relations with them, pro^^ded it is 
not at their expense. Two friends ought to benefit bj^ their 
mutual relationship. A husband and wife should both gain by 
their marriage, and become better persons in consequence of 
it. A fair commercial transaction is an economic benefit to 
both buyer and seller. If employers pay just wages and other- 
wise respect the personalities of their men, it is right for them to 
make profits in their business. If merchants and investors in a 
mother country are making fortunes and laboring men are 
getting employment as a result of colonial undertakings, while 
the people in the colony are also benefiting by the develop- 
ment of their own country, there is no violation of this principle. 
Profiting is not necessarily profiteering; only the latter is a 
violation of the categorical imperative. 

IV. Autonomy and the Kingdom of Ends 

A sublime conception in Kant's ethics that follows as a 
corollary from his conception of humanitj^ as an end in itself is 
his doctrine of Autonomy. A person who acts in conformity 



FORMAL ETHICS: KANT 309 

with the Categorical Imperative is ethically free, since the law 
that he obeys is a law of his own highest nature as a rational 
being. He gives himself the law that he obeys. This is stated by 
Kant in a formalistic manner, connected with his system as a 
whole, into which it will be impossible to enter here. Divorced 
from the formalism, however, it can readily be seen that since 
the moral law implies self-respect and respect for others, and 
since man is a being who can only realize himself in a social 
life in cooperation with his fellows, this law is really of his own 
making. No one who actually knows what he wants desires to 
commit suicide or fraud or be idle or ungenerous, or in other 
ways to refuse to realize himself and to lead a socially useful 
life. Ethical freedom can be found, and only found, in a good 
life. 

Connected with this is Kant's third formulation of the 
Categorical Imperative : ^^ Act according to the maxims of a merely 
possible kingdom of ends'\ A "kingdom of ends" would be a 
society in which every one were at the same time both sovereign 
and subject. If we could conceive of a society in which every 
one always acted in a rational way, in accordance with the 
Categorical Imperative, every one would act in harmony with 
every one else. The law would be both willed and obeyed by 
each and all. Kant thought of this in terms of formal logical 
consistency; if everybody reasoned logically all would come to 
the same conclusions. (Just as in a schoolroom where every 
pupil did his sums correctly all would get the same answers, so 
in a society where all thought rationally, all would pronounce 
the same moral judgments.) As we have seen, the moral law 
cannot be regarded in this way, as a formal logical principle 
from which conclusions can be abstractly deduced to cover 
every possible situation. On the contrary, we have seen that 
Kant's categorical imperative must be revised to mean, that 
every action should be done in accordance with our conception 
of the highest good of individuals, and the common good of 
society. And this conception becomes modified in the course of 
moral evolution. However, with this revision, the third formu- 



310 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

lation of the Categorical Imperative can also be accepted. The 
personal and social ideal implies that all of any person's actions 
will be in harmony and cooperation with those of all other per- 
sons for the common good. Since this common good is the 
good of all, both as individuals and collectively, every one in so 
acting would in an ideal society be both sovereign and subject. 

We have no such ideal society to-day, but to approximate it 
is the effort of Citizenship. Kant conceived what he called a 
"repubhcan" form of government to be the best. Its laws are 
theoretically, at least, supposed to be for the common good. 
No individual and no class of individuals should seek or be 
permitted to benefit at the expense of any other group; all 
should be treated as ends in themselves. Such ideals are not 
likely to be realized in a pure democracy, which latter would 
be subject to gusts of popular passion. Conditions would be 
more favorable in a "republican" form of government, by 
which Kant meant a representative system. In such a rep- 
resentative system citizens would not legislate for them- 
selves, but they would elect representatives at times and under 
conditions that favored deliberation. Executive, legislative, 
and judicial functions would be carefully separated and yet co- 
ordinated; through them the deliberate and hence rational will 
of the people would be expressed. 

Kant hoped that ultimately — although he realized that this 
could only come to pass in the distant future — all the nations 
of the world will be brought into agreement, and settle their 
disputes peacefully and lawfully, in accordance with reason 
and justice; thus wars will cease and an era of permanent peace 
will at last arrive. In this way a "kingdom of ends" will no 
longer be a mere ideal, but actual reality; and when it comes, 
every man will be citizen and sovereign in the free common- 
wealth of mankind. In the meantime, in all our personal and 
social relationships, we should remember that respect for self 
and for others implies a spirit of reason, mutual understanding 
and good will, and that to the extent that we realize these, 
our personal freedom and sovereignty — our autonomy — will be 



FORMAL ETHICS: KANT 311 

attained.^ (In this and the preceding paragraph the thought 
of Kant has been stated in more modern language, but the 
author does not believe that he has read into it more than 
Kant really intended. Kant's conceptions seem greatly in 
harmony with our American constitution and ideals — them- 
selves products of the liberal political thought of the time in 
which Kant was writing, — the latter portion of the eighteenth 
century.) 

V. The Complete Good 

The supreme good, according to Kant, is doing one's duty, 
fulfillment of the Categorical Imperative, a life of virtue. The 
complete good, in addition to virtue, includes happiness, con- 
ceived by him in hedonistic terms. The only acts that have 
moral worth are those done in accordance with the moral law — 
i.e., the Categorical Imperative — and done from a sense of 
duty — i.e., done because they are in accordance with the moral 
law and not from other motives. Kant's implication seems to 
be, although he never definitely seems to say so, that where no 
moral situation is involved, it would not be wrong to act from 
other motives, such as desire for pleasure. But such actions 
would have no "moral worth " ; that is, they would not be moral 
in the narrower sense, they would be unmoral. Yet those who 
are virtuous and carry out the moral law ought to be happy, — 
a consideration from which Kant drew theological arguments for 
belief in God and immortality. With theological considera- 
tions we are not concerned at this point; but it is worthy of 
note that for Kant virtue is not the whole good of man, though 
it is the most important part of it; the complete good includes 
happiness also. 

Kant makes the complete good too narrow, in restricting it 
to virtue and happiness. The complete good of man includes 
intellectual, aesthetic, and religious values that do not in all 
respects readily come under these heads. If we call these values 
unmoral, we confine the scope of ethics too closely. Ethics 
ought to take account of all the values that constitute portions of 



312 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

the well rounded life that every one should seek to realize. To 
give each value its due attention in a well ordered life is cer- 
tainly a task that all ought to attempt; it would seem that this 
is a moral obligation. Nevertheless it is true that in attacking 
many moral problems it is sufficient to take into account the 
probable effects of acts on human character and human hap- 
piness. In Part IV we shall frequently find this to be true, in 
dealing with current domestic, political, and economic problems. 

VI. Further Criticisms 

Kant confines virtue to obedience to the moral law from a 
sense of duty. As we saw in Chapter IX, a virtue is a sentiment 
that makes for individual and social good and is coordinated 
with other sentiments in a harmonious character. It follows 
that any act prompted by one of the virtues is a moral act, 
whether done from a sense of duty or not. Consciousness of 
duty only arises in the presence of conflicting impulses, — desires 
in antagonism to virtuous action as well as in its favor. One 
in such circumstances feels it his duty to do what is right, and 
his self-regarding sentiment — -his self-respect — is on the side of 
virtue. As character becomes established, it is easier to act in 
accordance with the virtues, and moral conflicts involving the 
sense of duty become rarer, Kant fails to realize this because 
of his imperfect psychology. He supposes that all human in- 
clinations, with the single exception of respect for the moral 
law, are desires for pleasure. Consequently he seems unable to 
conceive of a human being performing an action in accordance 
with the moral law without feeling contrary inclinations in the 
direction of personal pleasure. To be sure, he mentions the 
notion of a holy will, that would always act in accordance with 
the moral law, with no opposing inclinations to overcome; but 
only God has such a will apparently. That men sometimes act 
rightly because their virtues so impel them, and that thej' feel 
pleasure in so doing, he does not seem to recognize. Acts of 
courage, generosity, loyalty, love, and justice done jo^'full3'■ 
and with no thought of duty would at best on Kantian principles 



FORMAL ETHICS: KANT 313 

have to be called actions without moral worth (i.e., unmoral), 
since they are not done from regard for duty. 

In this connection we can give Kant credit for emphasizing 
one important truth. Acts performed from selfish motives 
certainly do not have equal moral worth with acts done simply 
because they are right. Kant is justified in making virtue the 
supreme good, and in not attributing the highest moral worth 
to actions prompted by other than virtuous motives, although 
to the external observer — as in the case of the merchant who 
gives honest measure merely as a matter of good policy — the 
action appears the same as if it had been done from motives of 
integrity as a good in itself. But Kant is wrong in attaching to 
such actions no moral worth whatever. 

This brings us to another criticism of Kant's ethics. His 
extreme formalism leads him to affirm, even more emphatically 
than most other Intuitionists, that in making moral decisions 
consequences need not and should not be taken into account. 
All that is necessary is to ask whether an action could become a 
universal law of nature; if so, it should be done, and not other- 
wise. Perhaps it has become sufficiently clear that this test 
of formal consistency is not sufficient. Kant himself does not 
adhere to it completely in some of his own illustrations, as we 
have seen. He could not have defended his own bachelor 
life on this principle; for if all mankind, like himself, were 
celibates, there would soon be no one left to practice celibacy. 
It is hard to see how he could have defended the economic 
division of labor. 

He was occasionally driven into rather tight corners in his 
defense of his formalism. For instance, a critic urged that 
if a would be murderer came to a man's house and asked if the 
man whom he was pursuing had entered the house, it would be 
a duty to lie to him in the endeavor to save a human life. Kant 
had to reply that veracity is a universal law to which there can 
be no exceptions whatever, since if telling lies whenever con- 
venient became a universal practice, no one could ever tell them 
successfully.* Again, Kant's doctrine of formal consistency 



314 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

forced him to adopt without quahfication the vindictive theory 
of the punishment of criminals, and to reject the reformatory 
and deterrent theories. A criminal should be punished in re- 
taliation for his wrongful act ; it is a universal law of nature that 
the evil deed ought to be made to rebound upon the doer. So 
if a people dwelling on an island should resolve to disperse and 
scatter to all parts of the world, it would be their duty first 
to execute any murderer among them that had received the 
death sentence.* 

But perhaps enough has been said to make it clear that the 
rightfulness and wrongfulness of actions cannot be decided 
purely from a formal principle like the categorical imperative, 
without regard for consequences. On the contrary, possible 
consequences need to be considered, — how the act will affect 
the character, happiness, and other values of all concerned, 
whether the effects of it will further or hamper the advance of 
the good life in individuals and in humanity. Consequences can 
be calculated only in the light of past experience. And if conse- 
quences are taken into account, no rule can be formulated — 
other than abstract rules like the three axioms of Sidgwick — 
that does not have at least a few exceptions. If we say that 
murder is always wrong, this is only because we have already 
defined murder so as to leave out the cases in which it is deemed 
right to take life (in self-defense, warfare, execution of murder- 
ers, etc.). Unless we were to define lying so as to exclude justifi- 
able cases of making false statements with intention to deceive 
(among which most of us would include the case denied by Kant) 
we could not say that lying is always wrong.^ 

VII. Conclusions 

Formalism, as found in Kantian ethics, is an impossible posi- 
tion. No moral principle can be devised that will apply for- 
mally and universally to all situations that may ever arise, with- 
out regard to attending circumstances and consequences. No 
such principle can be discovered intuitively, or in any other way, 
that will carry us much further than Sidgwick's axioms, and 



FORMAL ETHICS: KANT 315 

these apply chiefly to the purely mathematical or quantitative 
side of ethics. What is true of Kantian ethics would be found 
to hold of other formalistic systems, none of which is so meri- 
torious on the whole as Kant's. "^ 

On the other hand, the Kantian ethical system is fruitful 
in moral insights, once formalism has been removed from it. 
The three versions of the Categorical Imperative should be re- 
vised to mean consistency with, and respect for, a high ideal of 
personal and social hfe. They then become richly suggestive, 
and capable of application in almost an infinite number of ways. 
We should do only what we can see would be right for others 
to do in similar situations. We must be impartial in judging 
ourselves and others. We must respect humanity as an end in 
itself, wherever we find it, in our own selves and in the humblest 
as well as the most exalted of our fellow human beings. We 
should think of morality as a law of our own making, the expres- 
sion of our own wills when rational and intelligent. 

We should think of an ideal society as a commonwealth of 
wills all working for a common good, so that every one would 
become both sovereign and subject. This ideal of society we 
should try to realize in our families and local groups, and the 
nation as a whole. We should look forward to the time when 
it can receive international application, and we should now 
take what steps we can in that direction. 

We should endeavor to promote the happiness of others, and 
to surround them with favorable environments in which they 
will of their own free choice seek the good life. The complete 
good includes as its chief constituents character and happiness, 
as Kant saw. It also includes other elements not easily reducible 
in all respects to these two, — among which are some aspects of 
intellectual, aesthetic, and religious values. This complete good 
we should seek in our own lives. We should work for an im- 
proved social order, in which the complete good will be available 
to all who are willing to make earnest effort to attain it for 
themselves. 



316 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

REFERENCES 

I. Kant, Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals, and 
Critical Examination of Practical Reason. (Both translated by 
T. K. Abbott in Kant's Theory of Ethics.) 

H. Rashdall, Theory of Good and Evil, Book I, chap. V. 

* W. Fite, An Introductory Study of Ethics, chap. X. 

* J. Dewey and J. H. Tufts, Ethics, pp. 241-246; 309-317. 

* W. G. Everett, Moral Values, chap. II. 

* F. Paulsen, System of Ethics (trans, by Thilly), pp. 194-203; 350-363. 

* Durant Drake, Problems of Conduct, chap. IX. 

E. Caird, Critical Philosophy of Kant, Book II, especially chaps. 
II, VI, VII. 

F. H. Bradley, Ethical Studies, Essay IV. 

J. Seth, A Study of Ethical Principles, pp. 163-180. 

A. K. Rogers, Theory of Ethics, pp. 60-68. Morals in Review, pp. 

342-357. 
F. Paulsen, Immanuel Kant (trans.), pp. 296-342. 
W. K. Wright, Ethical Significance of Feeling, Pleasure and Happiness 

in Modern Non-Hedonistic Systems, pp. 57-71. 



CHAPTER XIII 
UTILITARIANISM 

I. Ethical Hedonism 

If it were possible to find some universal quantitative stand- 
ard, with which all moral actions could be compared, moral 
judgments could be rendered with accuracy and precision. 
Ethics could become a special science, as reliable on its theoret- 
ical side as mathematics and in its applications as engineer- 
ing. Ethical hedonists believe that they have discovered 
such a standard. "Good" is pleasure, "bad" is unpleasantness. 
Whenever it is possible to make a choice between different 
courses of action, the one should be chosen which will produce 
most pleasure and least unpleasantness. (Writers on this 
subject generally speak of "pain" instead of unpleasantness 
because of their ignorance of psychology; unpleasantness is 
really what they mean. See page 261 above.) A life in which 
nothing but pleasure were experienced, and unpleasantness and 
pain entirely absent, would be one of perfect "happiness"; for 
hedonists differ from other schools in using pleasure and hap- 
piness as synonymous terms. (Since, as the author believes, 
the words "happiness" and "pleasure" are not synonymous 
terms, he has in this chapter written "happiness" in quotation 
marks wherever it is employed in accordance with hedonistic 
usage, as synonymous with pleasure.) 

Ethical hedonists during the last hundred years have ordi- 
narily been Utilitarians. The good to be promoted is the 
universal pleasure (or "happiness") of mankind. The "hap- 
piness" of each individual should count equally with that of 
every other one. Any moral problem thus becomes quite simple, 
theoretically. The action that will add most to the aggregate 
of "happiness" experienced by mankind, or will most diminish 

317 . 



318 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

the total " unhappiness " and misery in the world is right; the 
contrary action is wrong. Therefore, what we need to do is to 
consider the consequences of possible actions, and to determine 
how far they will be pleasant or unpleasant. 

Bentham believed that all pleasures differ only quantitatively; 
between two pleasures or "pains" (states of unpleasantness) 
we need only to compare their intensity and duration.^ Sup- 
pose, of two possible courses of action, each could have several 
pleasant and unpleasant effects, and we could represent the 
pleasant effects by positive numbers and the unpleasant ones by 
negative numbers, and compare the algebraic sums. We should 
then know which to prefer. For instance, studying to-morrow's 
ethics lesson might be calculated to have the pleasant effects 
of a good recitation, of a slight step in the attainment of a liberal 
education, and of following the wishes of one's parents, to which 
we might assign, say, the positive hedonic values of 2, 5, and 4. 
It would have the unpleasant consequences of a dry and stupid 
evening, and annoyance at a pleasure missed; these might be 
evaluated at — 5 and - 3. The total hedonic value would 
therefore be 3. Compared with this, the total hedonic value 
of going to the movies, instead of studying, might be found to 
be - 2, since in such calculations future as well as present 
pleasures and pains (unpleasantnesses) are to be counted as of 
equal value. ^ Bentham's famous lines give the principle: 

Intense, long, certain, speedy, fruitful, pure, 
Such marks in pleasures and in pains endure. 
Such pleasures seek, if private be thy end; 
If it be public, wide let them extend. 
Such pains avoid, whichever be thy view; 
If pains must come, let them extend to few. 

The question arises whether it is possible to measure all 
pleasures quantitatively. Is the pleasure of reading a good 
book or of performing a generous action simply more or less of 
the same kind of experience as that of eating a well cooked and 
juicy beefsteak when one is hungry? Or do such experiences 
differ in quality? John Stuart Mill, in opposition to Bentham, 



UTILITARIANISM 319 

believed that pleasures differ qualitatively. We infinitely prefer 
some pleasures to others, because there is no basis of compari- 
son between them. Only a fool or a pig could think otherwise. 
We all prefer the intellectual discontent of a Socrates to the 
satisfactions of the fool and the pig. And if the latter do other- 
wise, it is only because they know no better. The wise man 
knows his own pleasures as well as those of the ignorant and 
the vulgar; the latter know only their own side of the case.^ 

In criticism of Mill, it may be asked, if pleasures can be 
measured quantitatively, just what is the basis of measurement? 
It hardly seems possible to take seriously attempts to represent 
by algebraic sums different amounts of pleasure and unpleas- 
antness. If there really were any accurate scientific method of 
measurement, by which different amounts of pleasure could be 
calculated and compared with one another, ethical hedonism 
would receive more serious consideration than it now does, al- 
though there would remain other difficulties to be removed be- 
fore ethics could become an exact science like engineering. If 
pleasures cannot be measured quantitatively, because they 
differ in quality, how then, are they to be compared? More- 
over, would it not be quite impossible both for want of time 
and knowledge, to calculate all the pleasant and unpleasant 
consequences of every possible course of action that might be 
pursued? 

In reply to such objections, the Utilitarian is obliged to con- 
fess that he cannot make ethics so accurate a science as mathe- 
matics or engineering. He has to be guided on ordinary occa- 
sions by the general rules formulated out of his own experience 
and that of others through past ages. The ordinary judgments 
of the moral tradition have been tested many times, and in 
general they are reliable. Where certainty cannot be known, 
one can decide according to probabilities. We should on every 
occasion select the act whose presumption of "happiness" is a 
maximum; just as we should, if we were seeking the maximum 
amount of money or soap or other commodities in a commercial 
transaction. The code of the banker is "to make all the money 



320 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

possible"; likewise the Utilitarian is guided by the principle, 
"make all the happiness possible". It might be hard to calcu- 
late the exact amount of unpleasantness involved in cutting 
off one's leg; but it would be easy to decide that there would 
be less unpleasantness if an anaesthetic were used. It would 
promote more "happiness" in the end to instruct school children 
in the rules of health, and to imbue them with healthful habits 
than not to do so.^ 

It thus becomes evident that, once Formalism is rejected, — 
as it must be — there is no possibility in our present state of 
knowledge of making ethics an exact science. All teleologists, 
both Utilitarians and Eudsemonists, are obliged to trust to 
observation and experience in judging of the possible conse- 
quences of actions, as well as deciding what course is the more 
likely to promote the end desired. The issue between Utilitarian 
and Eudsemonist therefore becomes this: — can all actions be 
judged better by the amount of pleasure that attends them 
than in any other way? The answer obviously will be in favor 
of the Utilitarian, if he can prove either that all values are 
different amounts of pleasure and nothing else, or that the 
amount of pleasure is the best available gauge of the amount 
of value in any course of action. 

II. Egoistic Hedonism 

Utilitarians have often attempted to prove their own posi- 
tion by a preliminary evaluation of Egoistic Hedonism. The 
latter doctrine is now rarely if ever held by moral philosophers, 
but Utilitarians think that its refutation logically leads to their 
own position. 

Egoistic Hedonism is the ethical doctrine that everybody 
should seek the greatest amount of pleasure for himself, regard- 
less of other persons. The argument for this position would 
presumably be psychological hedonism. The latter doctrine 
asserts it to be a fact that every one (at least when cool and 
reasonable and not carried away by some passion) does desire 
his own pleasure, and judges and acts solely with reference to 



UTILITARIANISM 321 

it. This fact, that every reasonable person desires his own 
pleasure, is proof enough that it is desirable. The older Utili- 
tarians conceded the truth of psychological hedonism. But 
they did not think that the egoistic form of ethical hedonism is 
a necessary consequence of psychological hedonism. If it 
could be shown — and they thought it could — that in order to 
gain his own pleasure or "happiness" a man must seek the 
greatest "happiness" of the greatest number, then egoism and 
altruism would coincide. Egoistic Hedonism would be merged 
in Utilitarianism. 

But, as we saw in Chapter X, psychological hedonism is not 
true. Pleasure and freedom from unpleasantness are not the 
ends to which we are usually prompted by our desires and im- 
pulses. On the contrary, pleasure is the affective tone that 
accompanies successful effort, and unpleasantness is the affec- 
tive tone of thwarted or obstructed effort. If we did not al- 
ready desire objects and so strive to attain them, we should 
make no efforts at all, and could not experience the pleasures 
and unpleasantnesses that constitute good and evil according 
to ethical hedonism. Therefore all the attempts of the older 
Utilitarians to prove that good and pleasant are identical be- 
cause men always desire pleasure are fallacious. Pleasure is 
neither the only, nor is it the chief, object of desire. However, 
opponents of Utilitarianism have been mistaken in supposing 
that they can completely dispose of Utilitarianism by refuting 
psychological hedonism. Although pleasure is not the sole 
object of desire, it might still be true that pleasure and the ab- 
sence of unpleasantness affords the most satisfactory standard 
or criterion of goodness and obligation.^ It might be true that 
the goodness and hence moral desirability of objects could be 
calculated by the amount of pleasure that their attainment 
brings. 

The older Utilitarians were right in believing that a truly 
enlightened egoism leads to recognition of the common good. 
It was difficult for them to show this convincingly, however, 
starting as they did with psychological hedonism as the first 



322 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

step in the argument. Bentham enumerated four sanctions 
that impel men, desirous of pleasure, to act morally. The physi- 
cal sanction makes it to men's personal interest to keep them- 
selves in bodily health and intellectual vigor; most pleasure and 
least unpleasantness come from obeying this sanction, and culti- 
vating the virtue of temperance. The political sanction makes 
men obey the laws, and the moral (or, as we might say to-day, 
the social) sanction leads people to seek the good side of pub- 
lic opinion. To conform to these sanctions leads to pleasant 
consequences, and to disregard them leads to unpleasant ones. 
The religious sanction impels men, in view of prospective divine 
rewards and punishments, to adopt courses of action that will 
earn for them divine favor. Spencer, in the light of evolution- 
ary considerations, was able to present a stronger though more 
involved argument for the reconciliation of egoism and altru- 
ism.^ 

The resolution of an enlightened egoism in the social good 
becomes clearer in view of the social nature of man, which re- 
quires the good will of his fellows for the realization of his own 
capacities. The really successful man in any vocation or avoca- 
tion is the one who is of most service. And such a man, other 
circumstances equal, will be the one who gains most pleasure and 
leads the happiest life. This is not a Utilitarian way of putting 
the argument, but it seems to the writer at least, that if psycho- 
logical hedonism be rejected, and if the end of man be viewed as 
self-realization, it can be shown that since self-realization im- 
plies social service, the successfully realized life will be likely 
to be the happiest one. Seek first the virtues and happiness 
will be added unto you. 

III. Other Utilitarian Arguments 

The remaining Utilitarian argmnents are for the most part 
intuitive or pragmatic. It is self-evident that the pleasant 
is the good and the unpleasant is the bad; this is intuitive. It 
is a pragmatic argument to urge that some actions are called 
good because they afford men pleasure, and others are called 



UTILITARIANISM 323 

bad, because they render men miserable. This is the reason why- 
honesty and truth telhng are right, for they cause pleasure in the 
long run. If people received pleasure by being told lies and hav- 
ing their purses stolen from them, such conduct would be right; 
it is because the contrary is true that it is wrong. Pragmatic 
reasoning of this type confirms the intuition that the pleasant 
is the good and the unpleasant is the bad. If other moral philos- 
ophers say that the various virtues are good, the Utilitarian 
heartily agrees, and he thinks that he can explain pragmatically 
why they are good. Courage, temperance, and the other virtues, 
he claims, are habits that usually increase "happiness" and 
diminish misery. That is precisely why they are virtues. No- 
body would call them virtues otherwise. In most cases the ac- 
tions to which these virtues prompt are good from a Utilitarian 
standpoint. Therefore people have very properly been taught 
to cultivate these virtues. In the course of time, however, these 
virtues have become mistaken for ends in themselves instead 
of the means for the promotion of "happiness" that they really 
are; just as the miser comes to love gold for its own sake in place 
of the uses to which it can be put. 

The reply usually given to the Utilitarian's explanation of the 
virtues is intuitional. Courage, temperance, wisdom, justice, 
and self-respect are intuitions perceived to be intrinsically 
good. We esteem them on their own account, and not merely 
because they produce happiness. If the Utilitarian rejoins that 
his critic is naive, since he does not see that they are mere habits 
like the miser's, with only instrumental value, the critic can 
only respond that it is the seeming sophistication of the Utili- 
tarian that really is naive. With psychological hedonism ex- 
cluded, the Utilitarian can only reiterate that to him it seems 
axiomatic that pleasure is good and good is pleasure, and that 
both are identical with "happiness ". All other values, he feels 
confident, he can reduce to this equation. But this identifica- 
tion of good and pleasure, the critic urges, does not seem axio- 
matic to mankind generally. 

Most philosophers, like most people who are not philosophers, 



324 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

have failed to become converts to Utilitarianism. Goodness 
and pleasure are not synonymous terms, so most people think. 
And happiness is not identical with pleasure. A happy life 
would not necessarily be the life of most intense and long con- 
tinued pleasures, and fewest unpleasantnesses. A life of much 
struggle, anxiety, and many disappointments, in which great 
force of character is manifested, would be judged by many to 
be happier, and by most to be better, than a life of unending 
pleasures. For instance, the lives of Abraham Lincoln and 
Robert E. Lee would be agreed by all to have been good lives. 
Most would not, however, consider them happy lives. Yet all, 
probably, would pronounce such lives morally preferable to a 
life of as nearly unalloyed pleasures as an individual could 
experience. In reply, the Utilitarian might possibly urge that 
the life of Lincoln was good, not for its own sake since it was not 
''happy ", but because it rendered great services to mankind; he 
freed the slaves and saved the Union. The life of such a man 
is morally preferable to a life of unalloyed pleasure because it 
does more to increase the total bulk of "happiness" in the world 
and to diminish the total bulk of unpleasantness. 

But what of Lee? Lee was on the wrong side; he failed; 
and it is good that he did fail. Yet we praise Lee for his sin- 
cerity, his courage, his gallantry, his lovableness, and his 
loyalty to duty and right as he saw them. So we say that Lee 
was one of the finest exemplars of manhood America has ever 
produced. Is the Utilitarian's explanation convincing, if he 
says that we praise the virtues of Lee because such virtues 
usually bring with them happiness to self and others, although 
they did not do so in this exceptional instance, in which devotion 
was directed to a mistaken cause? Can the Utilitarian persuade 
us that our error in this case is like the miser's, who comes to 
think of gold as valuable in itself, and not merely for the pleas- 
ures that can be gained with it? Is this the reason why we have 
come to think virtues valuable intrinsically, and not simply 
for the pleasures that their general practice affords? Can we 
beheve it to be only a matter of expediency and good policy to 



UTILITARIANISM 325 

praise virtues like those of Lee because they usually increase the 
bulk of human "happiness"? Or could it be said that the 
aesthetic value of Lee's career affords so much pleasure that 
the misery that it brought to himself and countless others is 
less in comparison, and for this reason it should be pronounced 
good? 

In discussing the lives of such men we have to fall back upon 
introspection, and we shall not be unanimous in our answers. 
But most of us, it is probably safe to say, will be of the opinion 
that there was something about the characters of both Lincoln 
and Lee that we deem intrinsically good, and that we cannot 
logically reduce to the pleasures that those men personally felt 
or communicated to other people. Their lives were of in- 
strumental as well as of intrinsic value; and the instrumental 
value in each case in considerable part has been the moral 
inspiration that they have afforded others, and by this we mean 
something different from the total bulk of positive pleasure in 
the world. 

It might be noted in passing, that while Utilitarian writers 
insist that "happiness" and pleasure are identical terms, or 
different only in the sense that "happiness" connotes more ex- 
plicitly the more permanent and extensive pleasures, they often 
drop "pleasure" from their pages and speak only of "happi- 
ness ". Now all of us would agree that the promotion of human 
happiness is a more convincing moral end than the promotion 
of human pleasure. But is not this just because the word 
happiness is often used to designate aspects of life other than 
pleasurable feeling? Does not the word happiness imply the 
ideal of Eudsemonism — perfected mental and physical well 
being? Suppose one were to read any Utilitarian classic, like 
Mill's famous essay on Utilitarianism, or a contemporary ex- 
position like Mr. James MacKaye's lucid and closely reasoned 
Logic of Conduct, and to substitute "pleasure" wherever the 
word "happiness" appears. Would not much of the plausibility 
and attractiveness of such arguments disappear?^ 

There are other pragmatic arguments in favor of Utilitarian- 



326 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

ism. The slogans of "the greatest happiness for the greatest 
number" and "each to count for one and none for more than 
one" have a convincing ring. Bentham and his followers in 
using them helped to effect great reforms in the interest of so- 
cial justice. Such principles were easily understood. Old and 
unjust laws favoring privileged classes, with no better argu- 
ment in their favor than mere use and wont, had to give way 
before such a movement. It could clearly be seen in England 
that to allow free importation of food, to afford workingmen 
living wages and reasonable hours of labor, to abolish slums, 
to afford opportunities of education to all, to permit unions to 
have the right to organize and carry on peaceful strikes, and 
to extend the suffrage, would promote the greatest happiness 
of the greatest number of people. Eudaemonistic arguments 
would have been more subtle and less convincing to the general 
pubhc. 

It must be conceded, the author believes, that there is much 
force to these pragmatic arguments. The advantage of Utili- 
tarianism, however, on these lines, he thinks is chiefly with 
reference to social movements. It seems doubtful whether the 
individual will in his own life be so likely to seek high ideals 
if he applies Utilitarian standards in the choice of a vocation, 
and in other important decisions.^ He will be liable to think too 
highly of immediate and tangible pleasures, and less of the finer 
satisfactions that a respect for virtues and for the intellectual, 
aesthetic, and religious values as ends in themselves might 
afford him. The Utilitarian may reply that this is not the real 
meaning of his doctrine, that he is quite willing to concede the 
superiority of these higher values, and that they afford the 
greatest pleasures in life, once the material necessities have 
been provided for. However, we are here considering Utili- 
tarianism practically; it can hardly be gainsaid that the actual 
tendency of Utilitarianism has been to fall short of a full appre- 
ciation of these higher values. 

It would probably be possible to contend that the influence 
of Utilitarianism has been in the direction of identifying prog- 



UTILITARIANISM 327 

ress too much with material and bodily comforts, and to lose 
sight of the higher life. So long as the masses of the people 
were without adequate food, clothing, and shelter, and obliged 
to live and to work in conditions unfavorable to bodily health, 
"the greatest happiness of the greatest number" was a proper 
moral maxim. Until these conditions had been remedied, it 
was not possible to expect the masses to be interested in the 
higher aspects of the good life. But, at least in America, such 
unfavorable conditions for the most part no longer exist. On 
the other hand, we are charged with neglecting the higher cul- 
tural interests. Economic activities occupy too much of our 
thought and attention. Utilitarianism, therefore, does not 
seem to be pragmatically the best moral philosophy for Ameri- 
cans in the twentieth century. 

IV. Conclusions 

Utilitarianism, in making the universal diffusion of pleasure 
the moral ideal, affords a roughly accurate moral standard, use- 
ful for some purposes and on some occasions, but too inaccurate 
to be universally trustworthy. The reason for this is, that 
pleasure is not generally the direct aim and object of impulses 
and desires; in other words it is not itself the good. On the 
other hand, pleasure is the concomitant of healthy bodily 
activity and the successful attainment of ends, and unpleasant- 
ness of the opposite conditions. So pleasure is an indication of 
the presence of the good, i.e., of bodily health, and successful 
attainment of ends, i.e., welfare. This is especially true in the 
case of bodily and economic activities. The pleasures con- 
nected with these are intense and to a considerable extent 
sensuous. It requires no very nice discrimination to distinguish 
them and to contrast them with the opposite states of unpleas- 
antness that attend ill health and economic deprivations. 

The ordinary follower of Utilitarianism is liable to think of 
the good chiefly in such terms. To possess in abundance food, 
clothing, amusements, stocks, bonds, real estate, farms, fac- 
tories, retail stores, banks, automobiles, yachts, and private 



328 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

railway cars, and to have good health to enjoy them, is to lead 
a happy and successful life as an individual. To promote the 
production and consumption of such utilities widely through- 
out the country, and to make their distribution as general and 
democratic as possible, is likely to seem to the Utilitarian lay- 
man the most commendable social ideal. The classical expo- 
nents of Utilitarianism, — Bentham, the Mills, Sidgwick, Spen- 
cer, Stephen, and the others — were by no means so narrow in 
their conception of moral values. But the influence of Utili- 
tarianism has been to put insufficient emphasis on the intel- 
lectual, aesthetic and religious values, the intrinsic worth of 
character, love, friendship, and like goods which are attended 
by pleasures less tangible and less easily discriminated and 
evaluated by introspection. 

Since, for the Utilitarian, virtues are only good because they 
are instrumental in the increase of pleasures and diminution of 
unpleasantnesses, the influence of Utilitarianism is tow^ard 
more laxity in moral issues than would meet the approval of 
other schools. Lying is wrong, willful divorce and remarriage 
is wrong: on such assertions Utilitarians and Eudaemonists are 
agreed. That there are exceptions to such principles they are 
also in accord; only the most rigid formalists contend that 
moral principles can be laid down so as to admit of no excep- 
tions whatever. But Utilitarians seem to other moral philoso- 
phers to find exceptions too readily. Since for Utilitarianism 
lying, marital inconstancy, and killing are only wrong because 
they tend to diminish "happiness", exceptions ought to be 
admitted whenever more pleasure will thereby be afforded. 

To be sure, in such cases the Utilitarian would not confine 
himself to a consideration of the persons immediately con- 
cerned. He would observe that it is necessary to make general 
rules, and that law and custom have deterrent effects that pro- 
mote the general "happiness" in the long run. If exceptions to 
the duty of veracity became too common, there could be little 
faith in another person's word. If everybody thought it right 
to lie whenever in his private opinion it would increase the total 



UTILITARIANISM 329 

bulk of pleasure in the world for him to do so, lies would be 
extremely common. Nobody would have much confidence in 
what anybody said. The loss on the whole would exceed occa- 
sional benefits in particular instances. Similar considerations 
would influence the Utilitarian in the other two illustrations. 
He is fully aware that hard cases make bad law. Nevertheless, 
he would admit exceptions to such virtues and duties as veracity, 
the indissolubility of marriage, and the preservation of life, 
whenever the exceptions, if they became generally recognized, 
would in his opinion tend to increase rather than diminish the 
general ''happiness". Weakening of respect for virtues would 
not seem to him an evil, unless it had the effect of diminishing 
the total amount of pleasure and increasing the total amount of 
unpleasantness in the world. 

The Eudsemonist would be more conservative. Since he ad- 
mits that no virtue is absolute, he is willing to concede that 
there are a few rare cases in which a lie is necessary to prevent 
harm to the virtuous lives of other persons. Similarly, there 
are cases where prohibition of divorce would lead persons to 
bitterness of heart and baseness of conduct, and where permis- 
sion of divorce and remarriage would further the cause of virtue. 
He would want the laws and customs carefully defined in these 
instances, however. The Eudsemonist would probably agree 
with the Utilitarian that there are exceptional cases where it is 
right to take hfe. A newborn infant, misshapen and bound to 
grow up a helpless idiot, who can only be kept alive by the con- 
stant care of two attendants, had better be permitted to die. 
A physician would perhaps be justified in not prolonging with 
all the means at his command the life of a hopelessly incurable 
invalid who is in constant and intense suffering. The test that 
the Eudaemonist would apply in cases like these would be the 
effects upon the characters of all persons concerned. No less 
than the Utilitarian, he would insist on the necessity of general 
rules, and would consider the influence of these rules upon the 
common good. Both Utilitarian and Eudaemonist would insist 
that a man cannot be judge in his own case, and that individuals 



330 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

must submit to hardships when making exceptions in their 
cases would tend to break down morahty in general. There 
would be this difference. The Eudsemonist would think prin- 
cipally of the effect upon the characters of people in general, 
and only incidentally upon their pleasures, while the Utilitarian 
would consider pleasures alone. 

It is true that in most cases that might arise the moral judg- 
ments of Utilitarian and Eudsemonist would agree. The point 
is, that the Eudsemonist is the more careful of the two to main- 
tain high moral ideals; since he takes character into account, as 
well as the intellectual, sesthetic, and religious values where 
they apply, and makes pleasure a subordinate consideration. 

All this is another way of saying that the Utilitarian pays 
scant attention to the motives that prompt men to act. He 
makes a sharp distinction between the intention, — that which a 
man wills to do, and the motive, the desires that impel him to 
perform the action. A man intends, for instance, to represent 
truthfully the nature of the goods he offers for sale; that is all 
the Utilitarian asks, in order to determine whether the act is 
right or wrong. That he intends to be honest merely because 
honesty is the best policy, and not because of his respect for 
honesty as a virtue, according to the Utilitarian, has nothing 
to do with determining the morality of his action, although 
it has much to do with judgment of his personal character. 
The Eudsemonist would not be willing to distinguish so sharply 
as this between agent and action. Motives impel to acts; 
hence it is of the greatest importance that people act from the 
right motives. It should be the great concern of moral educa- 
tion to inspire in children love of the right motives. Can this 
be done if they are left out of account in the formation of moral 
judgments upon conduct? 

Nevertheless a concession should be made to Utilitarianism 
at this point. We should judge not that we be not judged. We 
cannot discern the thoughts of men's hearts. In many cases 
we cannot penetrate with certainty beneath overt acts and the 
obvious intentions with which they are performed. In law, 



UTILITARIANISM 331 

motives as distinguished from intentions do not ordinarily enter 
into account, although they do in serious crimes. But in the 
moral judgments we pass upon ourselves, and in exercising in- 
fluence upon those with whom we have close personal friend- 
ship, we ought to set high value upon such motives as love of 
the virtues, and of aesthetic, intellectual, and religious values. 
We cannot praise these too highly. 

It is necessary to commend the praiseworthy insistence upon 
the part of the Utilitarian school that animals should be treated 
with kindness. The highest good is often defined by this school 
as the general "happiness" of all sentient beings. This is be- 
cause animals as well as men experience pleasure, unpleasant- 
ness, and pain. Since animals do not have virtues and character, 
other schools have not called attention so often to their welfare. 
The Utilitarian, of course, recognizes the justification of vivi- 
section when performed as humanely as possible by experts in 
scientific research; the consequences are liable to increase gen- 
eral "happiness". And he is not a vegetarian; for the lives of 
domestic animals used for food are on the whole pleasurable, 
while their deaths come quickly and are not anticipated. The 
lives of these animals, apart from their utility to human beings, 
add to the total amount of pleasure in the world. If they were 
not eaten for food many of them would not exist at all. The 
Eudaemonist can fully recognize that the Utilitarian is right in 
urging humane treatment of animals. He can add another 
reason for this to those given by Utilitarians: kindness to 
animals is itself an aspect of the general virtue of benevolence, 
and cruelty to animals reveals a real defect in the character of 
the person guilty of it.^ 

Utilitarianism has, as a matter of history, rendered a great 
service in moral advancement. In order to increase general 
"happiness" its adherents have helped to remove great in- 
justices. It is impossible reasonably to oppose any reforna that 
will clearly afford greatest "happiness" to the greatest number 
of people, in order to preserve privileges to a few. And it is 
difficult to think of clear cases where a public measure whose 



332 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

effect would be to diminish the amount of happiness in the 
world ought to win support on the ground that it would pro- 
mote the common good in some other way. ^° While pleasure is 
a normal concomitant of good living, it is not the sole nor chief 
constituent of the complete good of mankind. Since it is a 
constituent, however, and has the advantage of being com- 
paratively simple and recognizable, pleasure can often be used 
as a rough standard for the measurement of good. In most 
instances moral judgments rendered in the light of Utilitarian 
tests will be right. However, the Utilitarian standard is only 
an approximate and not a perfect test. At times it is likely 
to prove misleading. It is not a good standard to preach in 
periods in which bodily and economic necessities are generally 
accessible, and emphasis should be upon the cultivation of 
higher moral, aesthetic, intellectual, and religious values. The 
thoughtful student of ethics will recognize that a more accurate 
definition of good will have to enumerate other and more im- 
portant values than pleasure, values whose successful attain- 
ment is indeed attended by pleasure, but whose relative worth 
pleasures do not always accurately gauge. 

REFERENCES 

* Jeremy Bentham, Principles of Morals and Legislation. 

* John Stuart MUl, Utilitarianism. 

* F. Paulsen, System of Ethics (tran .), Book II, chap. II. 

* J. Dewey and J. H. Tufts, Ethics, chaps. XIV, XV. 

* F. Thilly, Introduction to Ethics, chaps. VI, VIII. 

* W. G. Everett, Moral Values, chap. V. 

* J. S. Mackenzie, Manual of Ethics, Book II, chap. IV. 

* Warner Fite, Introductory Study of Ethics, Part I. 

* James MacKaye, Logic of Conduct. Economy of Happiiiess. 

* James Seth, Stiidy of Ethical Principles. 

* Durant Drake, Problems of Conduct, chaps. VII, XII. 

* G. S. Fullerton, Handbook of Ethical Theory, chap. XXV. 
Henry Sidgwick, Methods of Ethics. 

Herbert Spencer, Data of Ethics. 



UTILITARIANISM 333 

Leslie Stephen, Science of Ethics. The Utilitarians. 

Hastings Rashdall, Theory of Good and Evil, Book I, chaps. II, III; 
Book II, chaps. I, II. 

F. H. Bradley, Ethical Studies, chap. III. 

E. A. Albee, History of English Utilitarianism. 

G. E. Moore, Principia Ethica, chaps. II, HI. 

F. C. Sharp, Ethics, chaps. XIX, XX. 

A. K. Rogers, Morals in Review, chaps. XIII-XV. 



CHAPTER XIV 
EUD^MONISM 

I. Introductory 

Eudaemonism has already been referred to frequently in this 
book, and some of its principal points have been mentioned 
in the five preceding chapters. The accounts of the virtues and 
of the self were eudsemonistic in tone, as were most of the 
criticisms directed against Intuitionism, Formalism, and Utili- 
tarianism. The present chapter, therefore, will to some extent 
be a review of ground already traversed. In addition, the 
author will endeavor to state his own version of Eudaemonism 
in a connected way, and to make clearer some of its implications. 

Eudaemonism, as the author subscribes to it, identifies the good 
with welfare, the full and free development of all capacities, and 
the attainment of all values. Values are intuitively recognized 
by men when they emerge upon a sufficiently high level of 
development; but the means by which these values can be 
successfully attained can only be learned through observation 
and experience, and the calculation of consequences. Eudaemon- 
ism is therefore intuitional in its recognition of values, and 
teleological and empirical in its formulation of moral judgments. 
Virtues are those sentiments, or habitual traits of human char- 
acter, which make men capable of attaining values for them- 
selves and for others. In this sense virtues are instrumental; 
they are also intrinsically valuable. Virtues and other values 
can be attained by individuals only as they cooperate with other 
individuals in a, just social order. Eudaemonism, therefore, seeks 
that social order which will be most favorable to the general 
attainment of individual welfare. A life of welfare is an active 
life; man finds his good in advancing with struggle and effort 
from lower to ever higher levels of attainment. It is also a 

334 



EUD^MONISM 335 

happy life, since it is accompanied by the satisfaction that 
attends full and free expression of one's personality in harmony 
with others. Happiness according to Eudaemonism and in 
opposition to strict hedonism, cannot be reduced to a quantita- 
tive aggregate of pleasures. ^ Happiness accompanies the harmo- 
nious synthesis of all impulses and sentiments in a unity. It 
is highly desirable. It would be more accurate to say that 
happiness is the highest pleasure, rather than the greatest bulk 
of pleasures measured by intensity and duration. 

Eudaemonism conceives of the good as an ever growing ideal, 
that gains fuller content as man advances in moral insight. 
This ideal, consequently, has never been attained completely 
in any human life. Every individual and every group of in- 
dividuals is imperfect; no one's impulses and sentiments are 
entirely coordinated; no group of persons are in complete 
harmony with one another and with other groups. But as man- 
kind has advanced in past moral history, there has been better 
understanding of values and virtues, and more success in their 
attainment. We estimate moral growth by the twentieth 
century standards at which our own reflective morality has 
arrived. We do not possess eternal and absolute standards by 
which to measure it. No doubt there will be better standards 
in future centuries, which will have grown out of our standards, 
enlarged and corrected by further experience. 

II. Evolution 

If there were no minds and wills with impulses and desires, 
there could be no values. In an absolutely dead universe it 
would not matter what happened; nothing could be desirable 
or undesirable in any way. In a world in which there were 
only plants and animals, there would be struggle for survival, 
and conditions might be favorable or unfavorable to the life 
of this or that species; still, in such a world there would not be 
the conscious and critical comparison of objects and actions with 
which ethics is concerned; there would not be values in the 
human sense. The history of values on the Earth only begins 



336 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

with the emergence of man, whose impulses can be guided by 
his reflective consciousness and moral judgments. ^ 

The values of the lowest representatives of the human race 
are largely those connected with survival: food, sex, victory in 
war, safety from storms, earthquakes, pestilences, wild beasts, 
and hostile men. It is with bodily and economic values that 
primitive religions are mostly concerned. Yet, as we saw in 
Chapters II and III, even the least developed men recognize 
moral values. For in the primitive horde, the lowest kind of 
social organization, consisting merely of a few families living in 
huts or caves in the same vicinity and subsisting on what plant 
and animal food they can gather together with their hands, we 
found the moral consciousness. Such virtues as courage, verac- 
ity, chastity, respect for property rights, hospitality, generosity, 
and kindness are appreciated and practiced. 

We must conclude that at some prehistoric date, after man 
had advanced beyond the plane of intelligence of his anthropoid 
relatives but before he reached the level of the lowest savages 
now in existence, there dawned in his mind a moral conscious- 
ness. He knew intuitively the distinction between good and 
evil, experienced the feeling of moral obligation, and made his 
first moral judgments. This is the truth in Intuitionism. Why 
is it better to survive than to perish; to have food than to go 
hungry; to have a mate, children, and fellow clansmen than to 
Hve in sohtude; to be courageous, honest, chaste, hospitable, 
generous, and kind? To say that the preferable alternatives are 
likely to afford more pleasure and less unpleasantness and pain 
is only part of the correct answer. It does not explain why one 
morally ought to seek pleasure for oneself and others, and to 
avoid unpleasantness and pain. The complete answer to the 
question is, that there are values that man has intuitively per- 
ceived ever since he has been human — goodness, oughtness, 
pleasure, and their opposites. The principal primarj- impulses, 
— such as fear, anger, sex, tenderness, sociability, self-assertion, 
submission, curiosity, acquisitiveness, and constructiveness — 
lead men to desire certain objects or ends. With the dawn of 



EUDiEMONISM 337 

moral consciousness, man intuitively perceives that these ends 
or values are good; they ought to be sought and conserved. As 
man becomes sufficiently discriminating, he learns that it is 
good that impulses be rationally coordinated and harmonized 
in sentiments, and so become virtues. 

The recognition of virtues" has been a gradual process of 
moral evolution, not yet complete, and that perhaps never shall 
be complete. Courage and honor were probably the first senti- 
ments to become rationalized, individualized, and socialized as 
virtues. The rest in due course followed. All the virtues have 
become enriched in content, and this process continues through- 
out human moral development. Recall how each form of social 
organization has appeared and in its turn given way to a higher 
one. The earliest form, based on Kinship, passed through the 
successive stages of primitive horde, mother right, and father 
right. In the course of the second form, resting on Authority, 
men were disciplined into obedience to a common despot, under 
whose rule precedents presently gave way to law, and reflective 
morality emerged from the level of custom and group morality. 
During the present form of social organization, that of Citizen- 
ship, men are gradually learning to govern themselves, to pre- 
serve individual rights and a common good. Each form has 
marked an advance in recognition of the values that man ought 
to obtain in order to secure full expression of his capacities, 
and of the virtues that he ought to cultivate in this effort. The 
Hebrew, Greek, Roman, Germanic, and Christian roots of 
modern western civilization have contributed values and virtues 
which the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the subsequent 
period have enriched, both in their ideal significance and in 
practical means for their attainment. 

So the whole history with which comparative ethics is con- 
cerned has been a process in which welfare has been advanced, 
in which there has been a development of human capacities 
and the attainment of values. The same is true of the psychol- 
ogy of individual moral development. In the years of infancy 
the primary impulses make their appearance; in later years 



338 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

these become organized in sentiments which become morahzed 
as virtues, and in their organic unity constitute the self, char- 
acter, or personaHty of the adult. 

III. A Classification of Values 

It is impossible to arrange human values in a hierarchy of 
increasing dignity and importance. However, Professor W. G. 
Everett has furnished a serviceable classification of the goods of 
human life.^ He places at the bottom the economic values, 
because all others depend upon them. Life itself is impossible 
without means of subsistence. Character does not reach its 
best development in dire want, with little opportunity for 
recreation and the enjoyment of friendships; nor can education, 
art, and religion thrive without economic support. Next come 
the bodily values, since physical health and vigor are needed if 
the other values are to be cultivated under favorable cir- 
cumstances. Then the values of recreation, association, and 
character come in order, and are followed by aesthetic, intellectual, 
and religious values. 

An intrinsic value is of worth on its own account, an instru- 
mental value because of its consequences. That economic values 
are instrumental is obvious; all other values are rendered at- 
tainable by means of them. Are economic values also intrinsic? 
Professor Everett thinks not; wealth should never be regarded 
as an end in itself, but merely as a means to the attainment of 
other goods. In one sense this is true. But in another sense it 
seems to the author that economic values are intrinsic. Is 
there not an intrinsic good in successful and productive eco- 
nomic activity? The artisan who has done a skillful job at 
small expense of time and materials has proved hmiself some- 
thing of an artist ; his achievement is an expression of character, 
it is an intrinsic good. The farmer, the small merchant, the 
great captain of industry, whoever handles his affairs success- 
fully from an economic standpoint — other things equal — de- 
serves commendation for successful creative effort. Such men 
find their vocations of intrinsic interest and value. And surely 



EUD^MONISM 339 

it is not a mere New England prejudice to affirm that nothing 
should be wasted, even when there is abundance! ProdigaHty 
and wanton destructiveness spontaneously evoke moral con- 
demnation. People who cannot keep a proper balance between 
their incomes and their expenditures seem somehow lacking in 
moral fiber. Persistent and productive activity combined with 
self-denial in expenditures and foresight in investments is the 
virtue of economy. The unproductive hoarding of the miser is 
neither instrumentally nor intrinsically virtuous. It seems to 
the author impossible to think of a case where economy would 
be of instrumental value where it would not also be of intrinsic 
value. 

The bodily values, most modern men would agree, are in- 
trinsically good. Health and vigor afford delight to their pos- 
sessors and all who know them. To have a symmetrical body 
and to keep it in good condition is worth while for its own sake. 
And yet not for its own sake alone; since the chief reason for 
having a good body is its instrumental value, — it enables a 
person to use it in pursuit of the other values of the good life. 
The calling of the physician is one of the noblest. Those of the 
athletic coach and the professional athlete deserve commenda- 
tion; since they to some extent are serving others in ways that 
promote the general welfare. But the man who devotes his 
whole life to amateur athletics and has no serious interest ex- 
cept to keep his body fit, deserves even less approval than the 
man who thinks and cares about nothing but money getting. 
The latter, if he is engaged in economically productive processes, 
is increasing the total amount of wealth in existence, which is 
a service to the community; the former is a mere waster. 

Next in order come the values of recreation and association. 
Play for the mere joy of playing is intrinsically worth while, 
within proper limits. And sport engaged in because a person 
loves it has high instrumental value also. The man who plays 
for the sheer love of the game will benefit more instrumentally in 
improved health and efficiency, than one who dutifully devotes 
time to recreation because his physician prescribes it. Associa- 



340 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

tion with others, including the values of comradeship, friendship, 
and love, affords experience of the values that in this world 
are both instrumentally and intrinsically of most worth. He 
who neglects this side of his nature misses the well rounded life 
that is the complete good of Eudsemonism. 

The values of character are the virtues, and the self in which 
they are organically united. These are of both intrinsic and 
instrumental value. Courage, wisdom, love, justice, and the 
other virtues we admire and revere as good in themselves as 
well as for the other goods that accompany them. The virtues 
were discussed at length in a previous chapter. 

vEsthetic values are of intrinsic worth. They are often said 
to be wholly disinterested, and their value to be entirely in 
themselves. While enjoying a landscape or a painting, a per- 
son does not ask who possesses it, nor does he wish to own it 
himself; at least, not so far as his appreciation is purely aesthetic. 
vEsthetic interest is free from economic and selfish considera- 
tions. Yet aesthetic values are also instrumental. Nothing is 
beautiful that is constructed merely to be beautiful, and that 
has no further purpose. A fagade added to a building for pure 
ornament, pillars that hold nothing up, but are inserted with 
the idea that they will look well, anything in architecture that 
has no purpose except to be beautiful, — these are not beautiful. 
If an architect were asked to design a merely beautiful build- 
ing, — one to serve no specific end but just to be beautiful — he 
would reply that it would be impossible. The same principle 
holds in all the fine arts — belles lettres, music, sculpture, paint- 
ing, what you will — in every case the artist in some way en- 
deavors to accomplish something more than the production of 
aesthetic pleasure. He interprets life or nature in some way, 
leads us to a better understanding of ourselves and of others, 
or indicates what is really most significant. His art serves 
humanity in some instrumental way. And it would not really 
be art if it did not do so. Art for art's sake exclusively is not 
good art. 

John Ruskin, and more recently, Professor Dewey, have 



EUD^MONISM 341 

lamented that in our specialized industrial society economic 
and aesthetic activities have become divorced, to the detriment 
of each.* Toil in factories and mines has little that is beautiful 
about it; sculpture and painting are of slight utility. The 
industrial worker can only enjoy beauty in hours of recreation, 
and the aesthete, in order to remain a real man, must in some 
extraneous way make himself economically useful. It would be 
better if manufactured articles could be made more beautiful, 
and if works of art might serve more utility in our modern life. 
Every artisan should to some extent be an artist, and every 
artist an artisan. Hideous articles are ugly because they are 
clumsily made, and ill-suited to the purposes for which they are 
designed: they are not beautiful because they are not useful. 
We should have both more beauty and more utility in human 
personalities and in human commodities if the activities of art 
and life were more organically related. 

Intellectual values are obviously instrumental. Knowledge is 
power. Human life and health have been lengthened and im- 
proved, material comforts have been multiplied, human culture 
has been enriched, education has become more accessible, and 
welfare in every way has been advanced with the progress of 
knowledge. All learning is of intrinsic value, interesting for its 
own sake. Research in any subject becomes fascinating to 
those who have any aptitude for it, and are willing to persevere 
through the initial drudgery until they arrive at the point of 
insight. From an hedonistic point of view, the delight that 
comes to the investigator when he is making a new discovery 
is among the keenest pleasures that man can know. Any 
philosopher can understand why Aristotle thought intellectual 
pursuits constitute the supreme happiness of the gods. 

However, there is useless knowledge. Some research would 
be unfruitful, and ought not to be undertaken, not withstanding 
the pleasure it might afford the individual investigator. The 
pursuit of knowledge ought to be carried on in directions' that 
promise most for human welfare in its entirety. This is not to 
say that all scholarship should be concentrated into fields whose 



342 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

utility is most obvious to the layman. But it would be well to 
discontinue any investigation that serves no purpose except to 
complete the requirements for a doctoral dissertation, or to 
satisfy the curiosity of specialists in some sterile field of in- 
quiry. The way to decide whether a man is a scholar or a 
pedant is to ask whether his learning contributes to a well 
rounded life in which all values find place; or whether he is 
accumulating erudition without any definite purpose in view 
except the satisfaction that may come from its mere possession. 
Scholarship promotes the general welfare, while pedantry 
serves no human good. 

The religious values are of preeminent importance in a good 
life. ''Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our souls are rest- 
less until they find their rest in Thee" is a profoundly true 
saying of St. Augustine. The intrinsic value of religion is not 
always appreciated. Prayer and praise are good for their own 
sakes, and divine communion is the highest form of love and 
blessedness. In our own time we overlook this, and over em- 
phasize the instrumental side of religion. We are disposed to 
seek through ecclesiastical means to reform politics and in- 
dustry, at times when secular agencies would be wiser and more 
efficient. Some of our preachers discourse so much on eco- 
nomics, war, and international relations (regarding which they 
are often incompetent), that they neglect to cultivate in their 
listeners appreciation of the love of God and the spiritual life. 

Other ages have occasionally made the opposite mistake. 
Religion was divorced from the problems of life. Suppression 
of all other interests — asceticism — became a common practice. 
Even in recent times cultivation of the religious life upon Sun- 
days often seemed to have no bearing upon a man's conduct in 
business. The same principle holds in religion as elsewhere. 
Religion should be of both intrinsic and instrumental value; it 
cannot be one without also being the other. In consequence 
of his communion with God, the religious man should be an 
abler and better man in every task that he undertakes. The 
influence of church and s^aiagogue should point men to higher 



EUD.EMONISM 343 

spiritual values and inspire them to make this a better earth 
for humanity to hve upon. Love of God and service of hu- 
manity are indispensable aspects of the religious life; neither 
can be neglected without impairment of the other. In saying 
this, allowance must be made for differences in duties and ca- 
pacities. Mary and Martha put different emphases on values ; 
but each was of both intrinsic and instrumental value. St. 
Francis of Assisi and St. Dominic each in his own way served 
both God and man, as did also Brother Thomas a Kempis and 
St. Thomas Aquinas. 

IV. Values and Virtues 

The virtues bear a certain relationship to the values. How- 
ever, lists of virtues and values are constructed on different 
principles. In cataloguing virtues, it is necessary to keep be- 
fore the mind what traits of human character are good, and to 
trace their growth from impulses and sentiments. In classify- 
ing values, the problem is more comprehensive. Man lives in 
an environment. What objects, in this environment, as he 
comes into interaction with it, does he find good? What traits 
of his own personality does he find good in this connection? 
All values therefore imply interaction between men and nature, 
in which each is modified by the other. ^ 

All virtues are values, both intrinsic and instrumental. Men 
intuitively approve of courage, honor, wisdom, and love; like 
jewels they shine in their own light. All virtues are instru- 
mental also; they promote the welfare of individuals and 
of society. 

To every value there is a corresponding virtue. For the 
continued pursuit of any value implies a habit or sentiment, and 
if the value is rationally pursued, the sentiment is a virtue. 
Thus the proper pursuit of economic goods is the virtue of econ- 
omy. The cultivation of friends, devotion to wife, and tender 
care for children are manifestations of the general virtue of 
love or benevolence. Corresponding to the intellectual and re- 
ligious values are the virtues of wisdom and reverence. Culti- 



344 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

vation of the bodily values comes under the head of the virtue 
of temperance; with attention upon this fact temperance is 
seen to be a positive virtue, and not exclusively negative and 
inhibitory in character. 

It is more difficult — though possible — to indicate virtues 
parallel to sesthetic values. Artistic creation is constructive; 
the artist interprets some aspect of experience that is in a way 
complete and harmonious in itself. ^Esthetic appreciation is 
passive; the spectator or auditor who contemplates beautiful 
objects is taken out of himself and his ordinary range of desires 
and activities, and for the time he is absorbed in a larger expe- 
rience valuable for its own sake. So far as such aesthetic activi- 
ties and experiences disclose knowledge, they appeal to the 
impulse of curiosity or the will to understand, and their virtue 
is wisdom. For beauty is sometimes truth. As we have seen, 
there is a sense in which sesthetic values are instrumental. An 
aesthetic experience is the completion and fulfillment of some 
interest. Any primary impulse may be evoked, and the ap- 
propriate virtue come into play. 

Not all aesthetic value is moral. Works of art that are of 
exquisite beauty may be unmoral or even immoral. So far as 
works of art are really immoral, they should be excluded from 
life, regardless of their beauty. However, it must be remem- 
bered that occasionally books and plays that have deep moral 
significance, when rightly understood, are unjustly denounced 
by the prudish and superficial. We should take the trouble to 
understand a work of art before we proceed to pass moral judg- 
ment upon it. At the same time censors and courts have to 
decide whether the general public will appreciate moral facts 
expressed with unconventional frankness, or whether thej^ will 
interpret the work of art in a morally unwholesome way. It 
is not so much a question of the artist's intention, as the sig- 
nificance which his work will assume in the minds of those to 
whose attention it will come. 

Art that is unmoral is often of greatest value. In fact, most 
would agree that art that does not preach is of more intrinsic 



EUD^MONISM 345 

value than art that loses its attractiveness because it is heavily- 
loaded with moral instruction. Moreover, the instrumental 
value of didactic art is often not of a high order. There are 
exceptions, of course, notably among the great poets. But the 
reader is advised, as a rule, to study ethics and other philosophy 
in technical treatises, and for leisure hours to seek the values of 
aesthetics in works that do not propose to solve the problems of 
the social sciences and moral philosophy. 

How much of a person's time should be devoted to aesthetic 
concerns depends on his tastes and interests, and his responsi- 
bilities. In a well proportioned life, some leisure time is de- 
voted to the disinterested enjoyment of nature and of art. It 
may be conceded that some people err in trying to cultivate 
aesthetic tastes of which they are naturally incapable. William 
James remarked that some people in Boston would be much 
happier if they would only honestly and shamelessly confess 
that to them a symphony is an unmitigated nuisance.^ But 
most of us make the opposite mistake. We fritter away many 
a leisure hour in recreation devoid of aesthetic value that we 
would really more enjoy if it were occupied with the apprecia- 
tion of natural scenery, belles lettres, music, or the fine arts. 

V. Values as Intrinsic, Absolute, and Eternal 

Are any moral values wholly intrinsic, absolute, and eternal? 
Values that are wholly intrinsic would be of worth entirely 
for their own sake, and would in no way be instrumental to the 
advancement of other goods. Absolute values would be of 
ultimate and unconditional worth; such values could never be 
regarded as relative, subordinate in some cases to other values. 
Eternal values could never change or evolve into different values 
than they now are. 

In a sense, it seems to the author that all of the virtues are 
intrinsic: courage, honor, temperance, wisdom, justice, economy, 
loyalty, love, respect, and reverence : they are all good for their 
own sakes. But no virtue is exclusively intrinsic. Every virtue 
is also instrumental, — it serves the good life. Character or 



346 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

personality — the self as a whole — is a synthesis of the virtues. 
Courage is a virtue because it is exercised in good causes, and 
in a wise manner, so as to serve the good of the individual self 
and of society. Resolute daring, if for a bad purpose, or if 
exercised unwisely, is not virtuous and is not of value, intrinsic 
or otherwise. Courage is not of intrinsic value unless it is also 
of instrumental value. Love is of intrinsic value, for he who 
truly loves is not seeking ulterior advantages; yet he would 
not truly love who was willing to do nothing for his beloved ex- 
cept love her. True love implies service in other ways; it is at 
once intrinsic and instrumental. 

But is not personality, character, or selfhood an intrinsic 
good? Yes, if one's character is social, i.e., if the good life of 
the individual self is also instrumental, in the sense that it is of 
service to the common good of humanity; but not otherwise. 
Must we not say, however, that the common good of humanity 
is an intrinsic good? Yes, for the common good of humanity 
includes and furthers the good life of each individual, and in 
that sense is instrumental to individual goods. Therefore, 
however considered, good is always both intrinsic and instru- 
mental ; it cannot be the one without to some extent being the 
others also. 

Some values, in comparison with others, are relatively more 
intrinsic and less instrumental. Economic values are more 
instrumental, while the values of character, culture, and rehgion 
are more intrinsic. No Hfe is well rounded in which any virtues 
or values are lacking. He who is unduly concerned with money 
getting should be led to appreciate the values of character, 
culture, and religion. On the other hand, there seems to be a 
tendency in some quarters to belittle the characters of those 
whose economic activities make possible our churches, art 
galleries, and colleges, and to overlook the intrinsic as well as 
instrumental value of their services. Most college students 
expect to go into business. They ought to respect themselves as 
future business men, and to realize that their future work will 
be of intrinsic value; they ought also to expect to appreciate 



EUDyEMONISM 347 

and personally enjoy the "higher" spiritual activities that their 
economic contributions will make possible. 

Are any values absolute? Any sentiment can be carried to 
the point where other and greater goods have to be sacrificed in 
its behalf, and it then evidently is not an absolute good. Most 
of us, for instance, would say that if the sentiment for veracity 
were carried to the point where a person refused to tell an un- 
truth, when by doing so he might avert a shock to a sick person 
whom it might kill, the sentiment would not be an absolute 
good; indeed to act upon the sentiment for veracity in such a 
case would seem to make one morally responsible if the sick 
person were to die as a result of the shock. We can, therefore, 
think of cases where veracity would not be a moral value. In 
the field of business ethics. Professor James Melvin Lee, quoting 
with apparent approval the opinion of Professor Jenks that 
"the greatest business sin is a lie, and the greatest business 
virtue is truth," expresses his belief that the concensus of opinion 
among writers on ethics affirm that a bad promise is better 
broken than kept, and that the absolute duty of truth telling is 
limited to that field where men and women have a moral right 
to know the truth.'^ Modesty is ordinarily virtuous; but if two 
girls in a boat were to refuse to rescue a drowning man because 
they discovered that he was naked, their modesty, carried to 
this extreme, would not be of moral worth. 

We have defined a virtue as a sentiment that is moralized 
by being rational, individual, and social. If a virtue is com- 
pletely moral, this means that it is entirely harmonized with 
other sentiments so that it will invariably promote the good 
life. Thus defined theoretically, a virtue is conceived to make 
provision for emergencies and exceptional cases; only as it 
promotes welfare is it a virtue at all. In this sense veracity and 
modesty carried to immoral extremes are not virtues. Thus 
theoretically defined, virtues may be said to be absolute,. Any 
rule that provides for all exceptions to the general principle 
that it lays down may in a sense be regarded as an absolute 
rule. But such a conception of absoluteness is rather para- 



348 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

doxical; it savors of rather fine hair sphtting, not to say- 
sophistry. 

It must be added that no virtues have as yet become en- 
tirely harmonized and coordinated with one another, even in 
theory. For instance, we do not yet wholly know how to 
reconcile national patriotism and international good will (two 
aspects of the virtue of loyalty) either theoretically or in prac- 
tice. What we designate as virtues to-day are the closest 
approximations to such complete coordination that we have 
thus far been able to achieve. These approximations are of 
course sufficient for most of the ordinary problems of individual 
conduct, and they are constantly being improved with expe- 
rience and reflection. 

What has been said of virtues applies to all values. No 
value can be said to be absolute, unless it is understood in all 
cases to harmonize with all other values in the complete good, 
comprising the common welfare of humanity and the individual 
welfare of every one. And such an ideal reconciliation of all 
values is a goal toward which humanity should ever aspire, 
but which has as a matter of fact not yet been wholly reached, 
either in theory or in practice, although constant progress is 
being made in that direction. 

Are any values eternal? If so, which ones? Love? Beauty? 
Personality? Democracy? Reverence? These are the instances 
perhaps most often cited by those who believe that some values 
are eternal. When we review the course of moral evolution, we 
at once see that these values have been variously conceived in 
past ages, and even to-day there is no complete unanimity 
among moral philosophers regarding their definition. 

There are and have been many different kinds of Love — 
toward parents, children, wives, mistresses, war, peace, science, 
art, humanity, and God. He would indeed be an hard}' moral 
philosopher who would venture to set forth a definition of Love 
that he could claim to be a perfect ideal of eternal validity. 
What Beauty is, the writers on .Esthetics have by no means 
made clear. The objects to which aesthetic value has been 



EUD^MONISM 349 

attached have varied greatly from one age to another, and there 
is much diversity of opinion among artists and critics to-day. 
While it is not true that there is no disputing about tastes — 
there is plenty of such dispute, and some of it is well reasoned — 
still, no standards of aesthetic judgment have yet been formulated 
that can be confidently claimed to be eternal. As to Personality. 
What is it to be a person? And how define what aspects of a 
person are of eternal value? Decidedly heterogeneous traits 
of personality have been esteemed in the civilizations that the 
earth has thus far known. What is the eternally valid norm of 
personality? Who knows? Or is there any? As humanity 
continues its moral evolution, may not different types of persons 
be required at different stages of future development, so long 
as man continues to inhabit the earth? 

Democracy in our American history has been an ideal cham- 
pioned by every one, and preeminently by certain of our great 
national heroes — Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Wilson, 
and others. It has been responsible for some blunders and for 
much lasting good. Sometimes the word is understood to con- 
note political rights, and sometimes to signify greater opportu- 
nity (if not entire equality) in social and economic relationships. 
Some profound thinkers still regard Democracy in both of these 
senses as a doubtful experiment. What rational thinker — even 
one who thoroughly believes in Democracy and is ready, if need 
be, to die in its cause — will avow that any definition of Democ- 
racy that has yet been reached ought to endure eternally ! 

To the deeply religious man, God may seem to be the Eternal 
Value, embracing all other values, and Reverence toward Him 
(understood to mean complete organization of all the virtues in 
a harmonious whole in devotion to God) may be the supremely 
eternal virtue of humanity. But consider past, including very 
recent, evolution of the idea of God, and of the virtues that 
He has been believed to require of men, and to afford them 
grace to obtain! We see that both the conception of God and 
the corresponding virtue of Reverence have been and still are 
undergoing great and rapid alterations in their significance. 



350 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

Who can as yet define either God, or Reverence for Him, in any 
eternal sense, vahd for all time? 

We must conclude that moral philosophy is at present in- 
capable of defining any eternal values. To be sure, human 
knowledge of values has been evolving, and our corresponding 
advance in the attainment of virtues has been following this 
progress slowly and painfully but with some success. Whether 
there are Eternal Values subsisting independent of change and 
evolution in some abstract realm of being, like the Platonic 
ideas, or more concretely, in the mind of God, is a question for 
theologians and metaphysicians. But so far as human ethics 
is concerned, moral philosophers confess that they do not as 
yet know how to define any value in a sense that they can claim 
to be eternal. Nor can the Eudaemonist except welfare as he 
has been able to conceive it, from the limitations of human 
knowledge. It, too, is only an approximation, although he be- 
lieves it to be the most adequate conception of the good avail- 
able for present human ethical theory.^ 

VI. Conclusions 

Eudaemonism is perhaps most often attacked on account of 
its indefiniteness. Formahsm sets forth exact imperatives that 
are to be carried out under all circumstances. Utihtarianism 
has one common standard of all good, — pleasure. But the 
Eudaemonist speaks very vaguely of "welfare" — of attaining 
all values and realizing all capacities. He does not advance a 
comprehensive and all embracing definition of welfare. 

The Eudaemonist would reply, that his standard is as def- 
inite as known facts permit. Other schools sometimes have 
gained more apparent precision, but it has been at the cost of 
being too narrow, and leaving out considerations that cannot 
be ignored if moral judgments are to be correct. It is impos- 
sible in all cases to decide what is right by mere intuition, or 
by a barely formal rule in which consequences are ignored. We 
saw that defenders of Intuitionism, including Formalism, really 
introduce teleological considerations in their interpretation of 



EUD^MONISM 351 

the good. We also saw that Utihtarians are unable to make 
pleasure a perfect criterion ; it is only a rough gauge of right and 
wrong. So the Eudsemonist believes that no standard can be 
correct that is less comprehensive than his; to attempt to re- 
duce goodness to some simple principle like formal duty or 
pleasure is to lose out of vision much that is good. It is better 
to include all good within one's standard at the expense of some 
vagueness, than to be more definite at the cost of leaving out 
much that is relevant. 

Moreover the Eudsemonistic ideal is not vaguer than human 
experience itself. We have learned to distinguish a variety of 
virtues and to note some of the contents of each. We have ob- 
served that the desirable proportion of values is not the same 
for all. Some individuals should devote more attention to 
some values than should other persons. Which virtue should 
be the more emphasized depends on the individual. In part 
this is a matter of native instincts or early acquired impulses, 
and in part of the conditions that surround him. So one man 
should be chiefly concerned with religion, another with art, 
another with science, and most with economic production. One 
man ought to be notable for his daring, another for his prudence, 
a third for his justice, and a fourth for his loyalty. Such spe- 
cialization is proper if not carried too far. The test is, whether 
the individual's own life is symmetrical, and whether he does 
his part in society in promoting the common good. This test 
can be applied to any given case in the light of experience and 
common sense, and the answer is usually clear, once all the 
relevant facts and considerations are carefully taken into ac- 
count. 

The Eudsemonistic ideal cannot be stated in a formula be- 
cause human knowledge of values is constantly increasing. 
Corresponding to this increase in understanding of values there 
must be modifications in the virtues desirable in human charac- 
ter, so that the right values may be sought in due proportion. 
Human social conditions have been altering with very great 
rapidity, especially since the industrial revolution, and the 



352 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

consequences of an act have constantly increased in complexity. 
An ethic that does not take consequences into account is bound 
to be inadequate. Eudeemonism, which keeps modifying its 
conception of the good in order to keep pace with moral evolu- 
tion, is therefore to be preferred. As values, virtues, and social 
conditions change for man, the moral standard must change with 
them. 

While Eudsemonism is therefore claimed to furnish the moral 
standard, other schools are conceded to have their merits, and 
to have brought forth aspects of morality that might otherwise 
have been overlooked, although when once recognized these 
merits and aspects can properly be included within Eudse- 
monism. Intuitionism is right in affirming that "good", 
"right", "ought", "better", and their opposites are self-evi- 
dent principles known intuitively, and irreducible to anything 
else. To this Eudsemonism can assent, adding, however, that 
what particular acts are good, right, and what ought to be done, 
can only be known through considering the consequences of 
the actions, i.e., whether and to what extent they further wel- 
fare. It must also be conceded to Intuitionism that the knowl- 
edge that virtues and values have intrinsic worth rests finally 
on intuitions. This concession includes the intrinsic worth of 
welfare itself. But how virtues and values can be pursued, and 
how they can be coordinated in a self can onl}^ be ascertained 
by a consideration of consequences. 

The ethics of Kant, too, has been seen to have great merit. 
It calls attention clearly and emphatically to the principle that 
what is right or wrong for one is equally right and wrong for all, 
circumstances remaining the same. The impartiality of moral 
judgments is thus emphasized. The various Kantian formula- 
tions of the categorical imperative were found, however, really 
to owe their chief merit to the implied values of Eudaemonism, 
which are disclosed when the formalism has been eliminated 
from Kantian ethics. 

The values that most often need to be considered in moral 
problems are character and the virtues, and pleasure and happi- 



EUD^MONISM 353 

ness. Since welfare is a pleasurable condition of existence, it 
is conceded to Utilitarianism that pleasure furnishes a rough 
measurement of right and wrong that is sufficiently accurate 
for many purposes, and at times therefore pragmatically pref- 
erable to the less simple standard of Eudaemonism. What can 
be seen to promote universal pleasure in the long run is very 
likely what ought to be done. However, this test may at times 
prove misleading when it is a question of intellectual, aesthetic, 
and religious values, and the virtues. So the final criterion of 
moral judgments should be that of Eudaemonism. 

There are circumstances and occasions when the criteria of 
other schools may well be employed, in order to test the conclu- 
sions to which Eudaemonism seems to point. If the other crite- 
ria confirm the conclusions of Eudaemonism, we can feel more 
certain of their correctness. If they contradict them, it becomes 
apparent that the problem is complex, and needs to be recon- 
sidered. It is 'prima facie doubtful whether anything is right 
that contradicts the precepts and customs of the moral tradi- 
tion which seem self-evident to the simpler types of Intuition- 
ism, or wrong that agrees with them. This sometimes occurs, 
especially in our rapidly changing social conditions; but well 
established moral judgments should not lightly be set aside 
before all available evidence has been taken into account. It 
is also doubtful whether moral judgments should be adopted 
that would not be willed to be universal laws of nature, that 
do not respect humanity as an end in itself, or that are incom- 
patible with a kingdom of ends; such can never be the case when 
the Kantian tests are employed with the formalism eliminated 
and the eudaemonistic conception of values and welfare sub- 
stituted. It is probably never true that a moral judgment would 
be valid that would be opposed to the promotion of the hap- 
piness of humanity as a whole; but as we have seen, a quantita- 
tive estimate of comparative pleasures will not always indicate 
whether this is the case. The eudaemonistic criterion is the 
final one — at least at present — and other tests must in the last 
analysis yield to it. 



354 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

The author has not meant to be dogmatic in his advocacy of 
Eudsemonism. He has admitted its principal weakness — the 
vagueness of its criterion, which it is impossible to express in 
a formula. He has found real merits in the simpler and more 
definite criteria of other schools, and he has admitted that it 
is always best to test moral judgments by these criteria as well 
as by those of Eudaemonism. 

In Part IV, in considering the moral problems of the family, 
the state, international relations, and the economic order, the 
criteria of Intuitionism, Kantianism, and Utilitarianism, as 
well as of Eudaemonism will be implied, though it will not ordi- 
narily be necessary to refer to them explicitly. Fortunately, in 
this field, conclusions rendered in the light of these different 
criteria usually agree. Unfortunately, advocates of both sides 
of unsettled issues are often able to quote and apply these cri- 
teria with more or less plausibility. This is not, however, so 
much the fault of the criteria themselves, as a result of the lack 
of sufficient knowledge of facts and consequences. It is impos- 
sible to be sure that the result of a simple sum in addition is the 
true answer if it is uncertain whether the numbers added cor- 
respond to the facts. The conclusion of a logically valid sj'l- 
logism may not be a statement or fact, if one of the premises is 
not certainly known to be true. In unsettled questions, the 
facts themselves are usually in dispute, and until these can be 
fairly accurately established, the standards and formulae of no 
school of ethics can be applied with certainty. Let us there- 
fore approach the problems of Part IV with reasonable confi- 
dence in the criteria of the great ethical systems. Provided 
facts are reasonably certain we can depend on the conclusions 
to which ethical theory leads us. Those forms of family Hfe, of 
political organization, of international relationships, and of 
economic activity that conform to our intuitive moral judg- 
ments, that agree with the Kantian imperatives (the formalism 
eliminated), and that promote universal happiness will ordi- 
narily be those that will advance universal welfare conceived 
in the spirit of Eudaemonism. 



EUD^MONISM 355 

REFERENCES 

* F. Paulsen, System of Ethics, Book II, chap. I, II, VII. 

* F. Thilly, Introduction to Ethics, chap. V, VII, IX. 

* W. G. Everett, Moral Values, chap. VII, 

* Warner Fite, Introduction to Ethics, chap. XL 

* J. S. Mackenzie, Manual of Ethics, Book II, chap. V. 

* H. Muirhead, Elements of Ethics, Book IV. 

* James Seth, A Study of Ethical Principles, Part I, chap. III. 

* J. Dewey, and J. H. Tufts, Ethics, chaps. XII, XVIII. 

* H. W. Wright, Self Realization. 

* J. A. Leighton, The Individual and the Social Order, chaps. XXVII- 

XXXI. 

* C. L. Sherman, The Moral Self, chaps. VIII-X. 

Hastings Rashdall, Theory of Good and Evil, Book I, chap. VII. 

T. H. Green, Prolegomena to Ethics. 

G. E. Moore, Principia Ethica, chap. VI. 

F. H. Bradley, Ethical Studies. 

Warner Fite, Moral Philosophy. 

R. B. Perry, General Theory of Value, chap. XXII. 



PART IV 
POLITICAL AND SOCIAL ETHICS 



CHAPTER XV 
THE STATE 

I. Citizenship 

In this Part, we shall consider the problems of political and 
social ethics, chiefly as they confront us in our own country 
at the present time. We are living in the relation of Citizen- 
ship, — in which government, wholly in theory and largely in 
practice, carries out the will expressed by the people, and in 
which the ethical ideal of the state is the protection and further- 
ance of the rights of individuals and the promotion of the com- 
mon good. 

Citizenship, as we have seen, is a late type of social evo- 
lution, which in the form of national states (as distinct from 
city-states) is limited to modern times, for the most part to the 
last two centuries. For the sake of brevity, a state in the rela- 
tion of Citizenship will be referred to as a "free" state, — in 
contrast with the Authoritarian and Kinship types of social 
organization. The term state, as employed in this chapter, will 
be understood to refer to the whole political structure of a 
people, — both local and national; unless reference is made to 
the "states" of the United States of America, in which case 
"state" will appear in quotation marks. 

For a people to carry on successfully a state organized on 
the principle of Citizenship, those who are citizens must exercise 
political intelligence and discrimination in voting for candidates, 
political parties, and issues. They must have moral discipline, 
and with general unanimity abide by the decision of the major- 
ity. They must always seek changes in the personnel of the 
government by constitutional means, and never by civil wars, 
revolutions, or any methods of violence, terrorism, or intimida- 
tion. Citizenship as a fact cannot exist among illiterate popula- 

359 



360 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

tions, nor where the outcome of elections is dictated by physical 
force. Wherever national Citizenship really exists in the world 
to-day, a people before entering it had passed through a pre- 
liminary preparation centuries long under Authority, during 
which they had developed a comprehensive body of written 
law, that they knew how to respect and obey. Popular educa- 
tion in political matters had become extensive. People settled 
their disputes in the courts, respected one another's rights, and 
cooperated for public purposes. This prior evolution under 
Authority made it possible for them to take the reins of govern- 
ment into their own hands, and to assume the responsibilities 
of a free state. In order that a state may be free, most — though 
not all — of the following conditions must be present: the sense 
of a common nationality based on a common language, history, 
culture, and traditions; similar mores; economic interests that 
can be harmonized; similar racial characteristics; religious con- 
fessions that are mutually tolerant, and do not clash in their 
fundamental moral teachings. 

The sentiment that citizens feel toward a national state may 
be called nationalism. When this sentiment is a virtue, it is 
patriotism. (Nationalism as a vice is chauvinism or jingoism, 
and will be discussed later.) When citizens lack patriotism, 
and so are indifferent to the weKare and security of a national 
state, refuse to obey its laws and support its authority, the 
state cannot long remain both united and free. Under such 
conditions, internal dissensions may either result in a disruption 
into two or more separate though possibly free states, or in re- 
version to authoritarianism under the rule of a dictator, or in 
conquest by a foreign power. 

Patriotism in its simpler forms, to be sure, antedates the 
appearance of Citizenship. It may emerge in any type of social 
organization in which individuals are conscious of their mem- 
bership in a group, and feel devotion to it. The sentiment 
develops from the gregarious instinct or impulse, through which 
members of a group feel a common "consciousness of kind."^ 
With gregariousness as its nucleus, other impulses later become 



THE STATE 361 

included within the sentiment, — self-assertion or pride because 
of the excellent characteristics that its members believe their 
group possesses, pugnacity in defending the group against its 
enemies within and without, fear of disasters that might bring 
it ruin, curiosity to know more about the land and history of 
the group in matters of geography, literature, customs, indus- 
tries, and other characteristics and activities of every kind. 
Patriotism as thus far analyzed would prove a sufficient psy- 
chological support for a national state in the relation of Author- 
ity. But for a free state, a further development of the virtue is 
necessary. In addition to being patriotic in the ways already 
mentioned, citizens of a free state must be respectful toward 
the law, intelligent in discussion of political problems, willing 
to take time and thought to vote wisely, and ready to engage 
in political activities. All must regard office as a public trust. 
Majorities must be just and generous; minorities must cheerfully 
submit to majority rule and support the state loyally. 

So complex a sentiment as the patriotism requisite for a 
free state does not develop rapidly. Each of our original thir- 
teen colonies had a long history of exploration, settlement, 
struggles with the hardships of nature, the menace of savages, 
and a political and legal tradition extending a thousand years 
back to the Anglo-Saxons. A patriotic sentiment toward the 
local "state" developed prior to the Revolution in each colony, 
which already enjoyed most of the features of Citizenship. It 
took the Revolutionary War itself and the difficulties that 
followed it, to make possible the extention of ''state" into na- 
tional patriotism. Through the efforts of Washington, Hamil- 
ton, Madison, Marshall, Webster, and others, a federal govern- 
ment finally emerged, supported by a national virtue of 
patriotism sufficiently strong to induce the citizens in a majority 
of the "states" to support the Union when its integrity was 
threatened in the time of Lincoln. Among the citizens of the 
"states" which then attempted to secede, the nation was still in- 
vested with a weaker sentiment of patriotism than the "state". 

From what has been said, it is evident that a very large por- 



362 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

tion of the earth is inhabited by populations that are incapable 
of Citizenship now, and that probably cannot be rendered 
capable of it for generations to come, if indeed ever at all. At 
present, the only possible rule for such peoples is authoritarian. 
The only debatable question is, whether the great mass of such 
people in any region will be happier, develop more rapidly, and 
suffer less injustice under the benevolent imperialistic rule of 
one of the free national states, than under the rule of an aristo- 
cratic and intelligent minority who are natives of the country. 
If this native minority is of the same race and religion, speaks 
the same language as the majority of the people, and shows it- 
self humane in its attitude toward them, something can be 
said in favor of intrusting the government to it. Lack of politi- 
cal experience, capital, and economic efficiency may possibly 
be offset by their patriotism. 

In our times we hear much denunciation of imperialism, 
especially when it is combined with economic advantage to a 
ruling country. An imperial system in which natives were put 
to the lash, forced into slavery, and otherwise cruelly exploited 
in order to raise tribute for their foreign rulers would be out- 
rageous. But it is hoped that such conditions do not exist to- 
day in the possessions and protectorates of any free state. 
There is no injustice in the mere fact that civil servants, capi- 
talists, and industrial workers of a ruling country gain their 
livelihood directly or indirectly through the government and 
economic development of a colony. If the subject people them- 
selves share equitably in the labor and profits of the develop- 
ment, if they are better off economically and culturally than they 
would be if the ruling nation were to withdraw and leave them 
to their own resources, and if they are acquiring the capacity 
for self-government as rapidly as their native intelligence allows, 
imperialism may be of inestimable benefit to them.' 

II. Sovereignty 

In recent years, there has been much discussion among politi- 
cal philosophers whether the modern free national state pos- 



THE STATE 363 

sesses the absolute powers of the despot of authoritarian times, 
or whether its sovereignty is Hmited. Advocates of the doc- 
trine of absolute sovereignty claim that there must be one su- 
preme authority to adjudicate all disputes and preserve order. 
The state is an involuntary association, into which one is born, 
and which one is forced to obey so long as one remains within 
its boundaries. Advocates of the doctrine of limited sovereignty 
point out the fact that the government of no free state has ever 
dared to interfere with all of the activities of its citizens. The 
conduct of family life, churches, labor organizations, and busi- 
ness firms has actually been regulated by the state only to a 
limited extent. The people prefer to express themselves in many 
activities through other forms of association than the political 
state, and they confine the interference of the latter to the 
minimum necessary for the maintenance of order, and the ren- 
dering of such services as can best be performed by it. 

Space does not permit an adequate discussion of this contro- 
versy. The writer, however, will make a few observations. In 
the first place, the types and subtypes of social organization 
that preceded Citizenship are so different from it, and from one 
another, that it is almost impossible to advance any blanket 
definition of sovereignty that will cover them all. The ancient 
city-states, though a form of Citizenship, were too unlike our 
modern national states for any definition of sovereignty to be 
equally applicable to both. It is even doubtful whether any 
single theory of sovereignty could be devised that would be 
applicable to all modern national free states, — so widely do the 
latter vary in their legal and constitutional traditions, customs, 
and modes of political thought and action. 

If we confine ourselves to the situation in the United States 
of America, the facts seem clearer. The people in their federal 
and "state" constitutions have carefully defined the powers 
intrusted to the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of 
government. In disputed cases, the courts determine the 
limits of the powers. The exercise of official powers, already 
strictly limited by the constitutions, is still further restrained 



364 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

by public opinion. No official under ordinary conditions dares 
to exercise his full prerogatives. No official, or all of them put 
together, is an absolute sovereign. It has been pointed out 
that the people can, in the manner prescribed in the various 
constitutions themselves, through amendments or through the 
adoption of new constitutions, increase the scope of govern- 
mental authority indefinitely. In this sense therefore can it be 
said that the people are themselves ultimately an absolute 
sovereign? As a matter of fact, the American people thus far 
in their history only in extreme cases have either through their 
officers of government or by constitutional amendment inter- 
fered with what minorities believed to be their personal and 
property rights.^ The American people seemingly do not think 
that in their collective capacity as a national state, nor as local 
"states" they either are in fact, or in ethical theory ought to 
be, an absolute sovereign.^ 

III. Natural Rights, Political Rights 

There are certain natural rights which a free state is morally 
obligated to assure to its citizens. The doctrine of natural 
rights has had a long and interesting history. This begins with 
Stoic conceptions of the Logos and with the notions of natural 
right and natural law developed by the jurists of the Roman 
empire. It continues in the discussions of medieval philoso- 
phers. The doctrine was revived in a modified form b}' Grotius 
and the other founders of modern international law. In the 
course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it was fur- 
ther developed by Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and others. It 
was asserted by representatives of peoples in the American 
Declaration of Independence, and in the French Declaration of 
the Rights of Man. To-day the related doctrine of a social 
contract (into which men in early times were supposed to have 
voluntarily entered in order to form a government for the main- 
tenance of their natural rights) can no longer be regarded as an 
historical fact. The evolution of Citizenship, as we saw in 
Chapters II and III, was a gradual and largely an unconscious 



THE STATE 365 

growth. Nevertheless, considered as a fiction, the conception 
of a social contract is valuable. Each individual citizen, in re- 
turn for protection of his indispensable rights, morally obligates 
himself to obey the laws and in other respects fulfill the duties 
required of him. He is a party to an implicit moral contract 
with his fellow citizens and with the state, — a contract which is 
for their mutual benefit. On this ground, he must pay taxes 
and fulfill his other civic obligations ; and he has no reason for 
complaint if the state, after due legal trial, finds him guilty of 
infractions of laws and punishes him accordingly. 

Natural rights may, for our purposes, be defined as those 
claims which a free state is morally hound to assure to its citizens, 
as indispensable conditions for satisfactory living. ''Satisfactory 
living" may be understood in the Utilitarian manner as the 
enjoyment of happiness, or Eudsemonistically as the realization 
of the essential virtues and other values of the good life. Per- 
haps all natural rights can be brought under the three heads 
enumerated by Locke, — "life, liberty, and property"; or by 
Jefferson as "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". 

Under the right to life and limb, the state must make every 
endeavor to protect citizens against assault, murder, and need- 
less danger on streets and highways and in public conveyances. 
It should also enforce regulations to assure the sale of pure food, 
and the labeling of poisons. It should take sanitary measures 
to safeguard the public health. Physicians, nurses, and pharma- 
cists should be legally certified. Other applications of this 
right will occur to the reader. 

The state under the right of liberty assures its citizens free- 
dom of locomotion — to travel as they please; freedom of con- 
tract — to make agreements regarding the purchase and sale of 
commodities, terms of employment and other personal and 
business relations; and freedom to marry whom they will and 
to conduct their family affairs unmolested. This is in contrast 
to slavery, to serfdom, to the condition of "status" under 
which such rights were curtailed by the feudal system, and to 
the special privileges and monopolies which the Stuarts, Bour- 



366 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

bons, and other royal houses used to give to their favorites. 
Under this general head, too, come the rights to mental activ- 
ity — freedom in the exercise of religion, speech, publication, 
and association. 

The rights of property include protection against theft, en- 
forcement of contracts, and the rights of inheritance and be- 
quest. A person has a property right in the products of his 
own mind, which is protected by patents and copyrights. 

If an enumeration of such natural rights as these seems trite, 
it is only necessary to turn to the pages of history in order to 
realize how recently they have been won anywhere; while 
treatises on comparative law and politics reveal how imperfectly 
they are protected, even on paper, in any except the most 
advanced states. 

Corresponding to every right there are duties that a citizen 
owes to the state and to his fellow citizens. These duties are 
of a twofold character. First, a citizen must exercise his 
rights in such a manner that he does not trespass upon or en- 
danger the equal rights of his fellow citizens. His right to life 
implies that he will do nothing to imperil the lives of his fellow 
citizens, — such as careless use of firearms, disregard of traffic 
regulations, etc. His rights of liberty do not give him immunity 
if he attempts to incite workingmen to riot during a strike, or 
soldiers to desert in wartime. The right to property does not 
give him a valid claim to possession of goods obtained in a 
fraudulent manner. 

Secondly, a citizen may be called upon by the state to assist 
in the defense of the rights of all. Since the state endeavors 
to protect his own life while in danger, he may be called upon to 
assist in the protection of others, and be drafted into service as 
a deputy sheriff or a soldier. Since the state assures his prop- 
erty rights, he must pay taxes and fulfill other obligations as 
occasion arises. 

No individual has a right against society. He cannot expect 
to be protected in a privilege which is detrimental to the public 
good. He cannot maintain his property in a manner that 



THE STATE 367 

creates a public nuisance. The state may take possession of his 
land by its right of eminent domain, affording him compensa- 
tion, if it is needed for a railway, a highway, a public park or 
building, or similar purposes. His property may be heavily 
taxed for schools, hospitals, libraries, and other undertakings 
deemed of great public good, regardless of whether he may 
personally care for them or make use of them. As a matter of 
ethical theory, socialists would be right in proposing that the 
rights of inheritance and bequest be abolished altogether, and 
all property revert to the state on the decease of its present 
owners, provided only that they could really prove that such a 
course would be for the public good.^ 

Political rights — to vote and hold office — historically have 
not been regarded as the natural rights of all citizens in a free 
state. It is for the government to decide in the public interest 
on which of its citizens such privileges and responsibilities should 
be conferred. In the course of the last century, they were 
gradually extended to workingmen, while women have come 
into general possession of them during the present century. 
The general principles of Citizenship logically lead to the con- 
clusion that political rights ought to be conferred upon every 
citizen capable of using them for the common good. The state 
will be more secure and of greater service if this is the case. 
A citizen needs these rights so that he can more confidently rely 
upon the government to protect his interests. A disfranchised 
class is liable to be neglected in a democratic government. 
Minors, felons, idiots, unnaturalized inhabitants, and persons 
who have lived too short a time in a place to be likely to know 
its problems, are not capable of exercising political rights 
intelligently, and so should not possess them. However, all 
such persons have natural rights. 

Political rights imply political duties. Even at the cost of 
considerable sacrifice, every citizen is under a moral obligation 
to take the time and trouble to inform himself on candidates 
and issues and go to the polls and vote.^ This remark applies to 
women. The ballot is not a mere privilege; morally it is as much 



368 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

a duty as it is a right, although few states have yet found it 
practicable to impose a legal penalty for failure to perform this 
obligation. The common good which it is the purpose of the 
free state to assure its citizens cannot be achieved unless the 
more intelligent citizens vote and take a reasonable amount of 
interest in politics. 

The right to hold office implies a certain duty also. Citizens 
who are qualified often owe it to society to enter politics and to 
seek office. If all the best men refuse to do this, society must 
suffer misgovernment at the hands of the less conscientious 
and competent. A citizen who neglects his political duties is 
deficient in the virtue of patriotism. The least that a con- 
scientious citizen can do is to express appreciation and to give 
moral and political support to those who consent to accept 
office and who perform its duties faithfully. 

Whether an educated citizen should identify himself with a 
political party, or be an "independent" voter, must be decided 
according to his convictions, talents, and opportunities. It is 
usually difficult to gain much political influence or leadership 
without working with a pofitical party. Primary elections are 
often of great importance, in some "states" more important 
than the regular elections. Most men and women should be 
sufficiently associated with parties to vote at primaries, but 
independent enough to "scratch" their party tickets when 
decidedly better candidates are available.^ 

IV. Formal Freedom and Real Freedom 

The rights enumerated in the preceding section are in gen- 
eral all those which the older individualistic writers like John 
Stuart Mill and Herbert Spencer thought it the duty of the state 
to maintain. These rights are said by Professors Dewey and 
Tufts^ to constitute formal freedom. The older individualistic 
view was, that if a state assures these rights to its citizens, they 
will by their own efforts be able to succeed in life in proportion 
to their merits; or, at any rate, that they will be more likely to 
do so than they would under the paternalism of a feudal system, 



THE STATE 369 

an absolute monarchy, or any form of collectivism, — all of which 
interfere with the freedom of individual initiative. 

In contrast with formal freedom, thus conceived as consist- 
ing of natural and political rights. Professors Dewey and Tufts 
advance their conception of real, or effective, freedom. A man 
does not have real freedom unless he is actually able to share in 
the benefits and privileges of modern civilization. The mere 
possession of formal freedom, the fact that a man has the legal 
right to buy and sell as he chooses in competition with others, to 
travel wherever he pleases, to seek employment wherever and at 
whatever occupation he prefers, will not afford him real freedom 
if he has no money with which to buy, nothing to sell, and in a 
period of economic depression no one is able and willing to 
employ him. In our modern society persons are born and 
educated under unequal conditions. They do not start in the 
competition of life under equal terms. Many have little real 
freedom in the selection of what they shall do in life, either in 
their vocations or avocations. 

What else ought a free state to undertake in order to afford 
real freedom to every one? Such states very generally endeavor 
through provision of free schools and compulsory attendance 
laws to assure a good elementary education to every child. 
Free public high schools and junior colleges and practically 
free state and municipal universities and colleges provide 
secondary and higher education to a larger proportion of youth 
in this country than has ever been done elsewhere. Schools in 
the trades and professions also have become more widely 
accessible than ever before. Libraries and museums of art are 
maintained at public expense and are open to all. Public 
parks, playgrounds, and places of recreation are provided in our 
cities. National and state departments of agriculture distribute 
literature and selected seeds to the farmers, while many state 
agricultural colleges furnish them with free analyses of soil, 
and give personal advice regarding their problems. The national 
government has brought into existence a system of banks that 
make them loans at reasonable rates of interest. Legislation 



370 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

has been passed to protect workers against dangerous machinery 
and unsanitary conditions. Women and children in some 
"states" are to some extent protected against excessive hours 
of labor and working conditions dangerous to health and morals; 
although much more needs to be accomplished in many places. 
Consuls in foreign lands supply information regarding favorable 
openings for commerce. These are a few of the many ways in 
which the state is endeavoring to go beyond the traditional 
limits of formal freedom in order to afford more real freedom. 

What additional steps the state should take to open wider the 
doors of opportunity is a matter of controversy. Should work- 
ingmen be insured, through the efforts of the state, against 
accident, sickness, unemployment, old age, and death? These 
are misfortunes against which it is hard for them to provide 
with their own resources. Medical attendance and hospitals 
are now free to the very poor; should such facilities be extended 
to include all whose limited means make their cost a heavy 
burden? Should our cities, like many in Europe, subsidize 
theaters and operas? 

Meritorious as such projects seem to be, it has to be re- 
membered that they would be expensive, and that the money 
for their maintenance would have to be raised by public taxa- 
tion, and that the state is seldom economically efficient in any 
of its undertakings. If those whose industry, thrift, and ability 
have won them a place among the tax paying class were ex- 
tremely heavily taxed for the benefit of the less industrious, less 
thrifty, and less able, would that be just? Or would it put a 
premium on idleness and extravagance, and discourage personal 
initiative? If intelligent and ambitious people with moderate 
incomes who wish to give better opportunities to their children 
are heavily taxed, they will postpone marriage and have even 
smaller families than at present. College graduates do not 
now reproduce themselves. Shall subsequent generations be 
bred from those who at present are less intelligent and success- 
ful, from those who are contented with lower standards of 
living and education for themselves and their children? 



THE STATE 371 

It will be widely conceded that in a prosperous country like 
ours more than has yet been done can be properly undertaken 
by the state in order to afford real freedom to all. The 
general principle is clear. The more the national wealth in- 
creases the more the state should attempt along the lines men- 
tioned. That there must also be a limit at any given time to 
the extent of such state activities will also be conceded by most 
persons. Only by experience can the proper limit be discovered. 
It is some comfort to remember that through scientific farming, 
high wages, and the general standards of living and of saving 
which they make possible, the American farmer and laborer 
enjoy more real freedom than men in their occupations have 
known elsewhere. Further reference to the problem of real 
freedom will be made, from another angle, in the following 
chapter. 

V. Law and Justice 

The evolution of justice from the primitive horde, in which 
each individual had to enforce his own rights, through the later 
forms of kinship in which the group came to his aid, and the rela- 
tion of Authority, in which courts arose and gradually extended 
their jurisdiction, is long and interesting, but too lengthy to be 
outlined here.^ We have learned to distinguish in law between 
crimes (like murder, rape, arson), which are injuries of such con- 
sequence that the state prosecutes the accused, torts (like libel 
and trespass), lesser wrongs in which the injured individual of 
his own initiative seeks redress, and contracts, whose interpreta- 
tion in doubtful cases may be brought before the courts for 
determination. The court is an impartial tribunal, before 
which legal talent representing opposing sides presents evidence 
and arguments. The judge decides in accordance with law and 
precedent, regardless of his own feelings and intuitions. In 
some instances, the decision regarding matters of fact is referred 
to a jury, consisting of twelve representative citizens, who listen 
to the evidence which is presented to them in accordance with 
the rules of procedure which long experience has shown most 



372 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

trustworthy. After hearing this evidence they retire from the 
court room, and, removed from popular disturbance, deUberate 
on the evidence; if one side has clearly established its case, they 
are able to arrive at a unanimous verdict. 

Popular legislation is occasionally declared unconstitutional 
by the courts, although this does not occur so often as is fre- 
quently supposed. In most such instances in the past, histo- 
rians find that the legislation was hasty and ill-advised, and 
that we owe much to the courts for having annulled it. To 
satisfy popular clamor, politicians sometimes pass bills that they 
know to be unconstitutional as well as undesirable. They 
thus escape the wrath of their constituents and force the bench 
to bear the odium of popular indignation. 

Twenty years ago there were numerous complaints against 
the courts on the ground that judges usually came to the bench 
after legal practice in defense of large business corporations, and 
so were unduly prejudiced in their favor. Courts pronounced 
unconstitutional measures that required shorter hours and more 
sanitary working conditions, or protected women and children, 
on the ground that such laws interfered with the right of free- 
dom of contract for those who were willing to accept employ- 
ment without such safeguards. We hear of fewer such decisions 
to-day, and more legislation along such lines has been sustained 
by the courts in recent years. Labor leaders complain that un- 
duly sweeping injunctions are sometimes issued during strikes; 
but in such instances there are usually two sides to the question. 
We now realize that strikes, especially those carried on by 
unions not affiliated with the American Federation of Labor or 
the Railway Brotherhoods, are often under the influence of 
agitators who urge destruction of property and violent assaults 
upon strike breakers, and who are more concerned to hasten 
the ''social revolution" and the advent of communism than to 
promote the interests of the particular men on strike. Under 
such circumstances we appreciate that injunctions sometimes 
may be necessary. 

The impartial American can hardly believe that peaceful 



THE STATE 373 

picketing should ever be forbidden by courts; but he realizes 
that the line between this and intimidation is not always easy 
to draw. Courts may sometimes decide against workingmen 
because the latter have less able counsel and fail to get their 
side adequately presented; here there may be real ground for 
complaint. But few, except the radicals, believe that the courts 
are now willfully prejudiced against labor. At present public 
opinion seems decidedly opposed to drastic changes in our 
judicial system, such as the recall of judges, the recall of judicial 
decisions, and the election of all judges by popular vote for 
short terms. On the contrary, it is felt to be important that 
judges perform their work free from popular excitement and 
clamor, guided solely by the law in rendering their decisions. 

There is more justification for criticism of the jury system as 
it now exists. Juries are often carelessly chosen. In many 
"states" they are still expected to pass upon technical matters 
beyond the comprehension of laymen, such as pleas of insanity 
in criminal trials. Lawyers are permitted to make emotional 
appeals to juries. Historically and theoretically, juries should 
be a protection against the prejudices of judges, and they should 
be representative of general public sentiment. Practically the 
present tendency seems to be to make less use of them, until re- 
forms can be effected. ^° 

It is frequently claimed that our court procedure affords too 
many advantages to those on trial for crimes, making convic- 
tion of the guilty very difficult; and that, to offset this, the 
police frequently revive medieval methods of torture in the 
endeavor to extort confessions from those under arrest. Per- 
haps every one as soon as arrested ought to be examined in open 
court, and required to testify regardless of whether his evidence 
may be unfavorable to himself. It seems questionable whether 
under any circumstances a witness ought to be permitted to 
refuse to answer questions on the ground that his replies might 
tend to incriminate himself. No honest man would seem to 
need such immunity, and no others should be allowed it. 

The most serious criticism of our judicial system, of which 



374 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

the author knows, is the expensiveness of Htigation and the long 
delays which often make it difficult if not practically impossible 
for a poor man to obtain justice in the courts. In a civil suit 
the poor cannot afford the best trained lawyers, so that their 
causes are not adequately set forth; the wealthy, on the other 
hand, through appeals and continuances, can keep a case in the 
courts for years, until a poor man's resources are exhausted. 
In criminal cases the poor man is unable to secure in his defense 
a lawyer who is at all a match for the district attorney;^^ a 
wealthy defendant can engage the best legal talent in the coun- 
try, with whom the district attorney probably cannot compete 
in skill. A little has been done in our large cities to alleviate 
some features of this situation, by providing informal courts in 
which small debts can be collected quickly and inexpensively; 
while legal aid societies afford assistance to the poor. But 
changes of a very sweeping character seem inevitable before it 
will be true that all classes of people will be on a level of equality 
when they appear before the courts. Until this is done, the 
power of the purse will continue at times to tip the scales of 
justice. "^ 2 

The moral philosopher must regard the law with high respect. 
So long as laws exist they should be obeyed. The security of 
society and the general welfare depend upon them. It is very 
rare in a free state that a conscientious objector is justified in 
disobeying them. He should, instead, argue for their revision 
or repeal. Where freedom of speech and publication are as- 
sured, it ought not to be difficult to arouse pubhc opinion re- 
garding real wrongs. 

Moreover, no one can study statute law, still less the com- 
mon law, without being impressed by their fundamental wisdom 
in most respects. The ethics of the common law is objec- 
tive, based on experience in judgment of actual cases by count- 
less courts for generations and centuries. It is the expression 
of more extensive reflection in contact with actual life, than any 
system of ethics deduced in his study by a moral philosopher 
can possibly be. One American teacher, at least, has believed 



THE STATE 375 

that the study of court decisions furnishes the best introduction 
to ethics. ^^ The chief hmitations of the law as a source for 
ethical study are, that it is inevitably conservative, revealing 
only those thoroughly crystallized moral judgments that have 
had time to be embodied in statutes and -judicial decisions, that 
it deals chiefly with prohibitions of overt offenses that can be 
proved in courts and punished by the means available to them 
(chiefly imprisonment and fines), and that it can only to a 
limited extent take account of motives, or reckon with the 
higher values. Law, therefore, is by no means the whole of 
ethics, but it contains a basic portion of it. 

VI. Crime and Punishment 

When animals or men are thwarted by others in the expres- 
sion of any deep-seated impulse, they feel the emotion of anger, 
and an impulse to fight. The pugnacious impulse has a biologi- 
cal basis, and is of value in the protection of species. But fight- 
ing for the sake of fighting is neither instinctive in animals nor 
men; it occurs only in the defense of values threatened or in 
retaliation for injuries already received. ^^ The pugnacious im- 
pulse is capable of education in modes of its expression and in 
the organization of sentiments. This is why there has been an 
evolution in the human attitude toward punishment, so that 
the resentment of a social group has come to supersede individ- 
ual resentment in the punishment of crimes, and fighting has 
become confined to the expression of national resentment in 
wars. 

When a member of the primitive horde is injured, as we have 
seen, he unaided fights his enemy and tries to revenge the wrong. 
Under mother right and father right his kin through sympathy 
share his anger and assist him to revenge himself. If, however, 
the offender is also a member of their group, the gregarious im- 
pulse tempers anger. Then punishment must be measured, so 
that vengeance will not be out of proportion to anger felt. To 
imitate the offense in the punishment often seems satisfactory. 
Perhaps this is the origin of the lex talionis — an eye for an eye, 



376 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

a tooth for a tooth, a Ufe for a Hfe. The authoritarian court 
was more reflective, probably, than the kinship chiefs whom it 
succeeded. Gradually customs were reduced to written laws 
and were codified. The Laws of Hammurabi and the Mosaic 
codes reveal the justice of early civilizations. The psychology 
underljdng them is for the most part simple and logical ; punish- 
ments are proportioned to public indignation at wrongs com- 
mitted.^^ 

As morality reached higher stages of reflection, it no longer 
seemed right to punish offenders simply as an expression of 
public anger. Some more adequate ethical basis for punish- 
ment had to be found. Many theories on the subject have been 
advanced by moral philosophers. Most of the truth in them 
can, the author believes, be brought under four heads, to which 
he will give arbitrary names as a matter of convenience. 

First, and most important, is the idea of moral education and 
social condemnation. The simplest illustrations of this prin- 
ciple can be found in the nursery and schoolroom. If one child 
bloodies the nose of another he needs to be punished in order 
that both he and the other children will be morally educated to 
know that the act is wrong and to condemn it. Otherwise the 
children would not realize that the act was wrong; some of 
them would probably approve of it ; and a bad precedent would 
be set for the future. A wise parent or teacher, who is a good 
disciplinarian, leads children to share his own indignation at 
misdeeds as well as his willingness to forgive those who are 
penitent and have made reparations. 

The same principle holds on a larger scale for adult society. 
Punishments educate people to view crimes with moral indig- 
nation. An offense that is never punished ceases to receive 
serious moral condemnation; many people fail to realize that it 
is wrong. Most persons want to do what is right, and volunta- 
rily refrain from what they realize to be social wrongs. If they 
are taught to discriminate correctly, they can be depended upon 
to act accordingly. Furthermore, if an offender can also be 
led to see the wrongfulness of his act — and he often can, espe- 



THE STATE 377 

cially if he is young — he will repent and may reform. On the 
other hand, if he were not punished for his crimes, he would 
hardly realize that he had been guilty of serious misconduct. 

Punishments on this or any other theory must not be harsher 
than public opinion will support. A teacher whose pupils think 
that he punishes with too great severity will be regarded as a 
tyrant, and his victims will be deemed heroes and martyrs. 
Such punishments are futile and even harmful from the stand- 
point of moral education. If the state enacts penalties severer 
than public indignation warrants, police will be slow to arrest, 
grand juries will not indict, petit juries will not convict, and 
governors will pardon. On the other hand, if public indigna- 
tion is great, and crimes are frequent, while arrests and convic- 
tions are few and uncertain, and punishments are mild, the pub- 
lic will become impatient. Those suspected of crime will be 
lynched. Ku Klux Klans and like organizations will run out of 
town those whom they fancy to be undesirable citizens. Vig- 
ilance committees will seize authority and mete out rough 
handed justice. The trouble with such extra-legal forms of 
justice is that the accused are not given fair trials, the innocent 
are often punished, and the guilty escape. Worst of all, the 
community loses its respect for law. The aims of moral educa- 
tion are defeated. 

Second in importance is the principle of deterrence. While 
most persons will do what is right, if they know it, — otherwise 
courts and police officers would be insufficient — a minority 
exists who are grievously tempted to commit what they know 
to be crimes. For this minority, the risk of apprehension and 
punishment is necessary for deterrence. In cities and countries 
in which the prospect of swift convictions is high, crimes are 
few ; while in localities in which convictions are rare, crimes are 
frequent. Although minor causes enter, this seems to be the 
chief reason why homicides and robberies are many times 
more common in the United States than in Great Britain and 
most other free countries. In order to secure moral condem- 
nation by the general public, a fairly severe penalty is impres- 



378 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

sive and has high value, provided the measure of severity does 
not exceed pubhc approval. On the other hand, strong prob- 
ability of arrest and conviction, even with a mild penalty, is a 
stronger deterrent to would-be offenders than a severe penalty 
rarely enforced. It is said that in the days when a pickpocket 
was occasionally given a public hanging, but when pickpockets 
usually were not caught, the pockets of the spectators at such 
an execution were often picked. 

The two principles thus far discussed are based primarily 
upon the public interest. This is ethically defensible on the 
ground that no one has rights against society, least of all those 
who have transgressed its laws. First consideration must be 
given to the common good. The two remaining principles, of 
subordinate but real importance, call attention more directly 
to the offender himself. 

The third principle is that of prevention of further crimes by 
the convict. Obviously the only absolutely sure means is exe- 
cution. Imprisonment is efficacious during the term of sen- 
tence, as long as the convict does not escape or secure a pardon. 
A milder penalty is a fine; it is even fondly believed that this 
punishment is efficacious in causing persons guilty of speeding 
to be more careful about endangering human lives. An offender 
may simply be censured, with the hope that fear of punishment 
for his next offense will restrain him. Or he may be placed under 
surveihance, e.g., put under bonds to keep the peace, or re- 
quired to report to judge or police station at stated intervals, 
with the hope that the knowledge that he is under observation 
may prevent him from engaging in further crime. 

Fourthly, punishment may have as its motive the reforma- 
tion of the moral character of the criminal. If during his im- 
prisonment he is taught an honest means of livelihood, and 
inspired with higher ideals, he may be reclaimed for society. 
Dr. WilHam R. George ^^ through his conduct of the George 
Junior Republic has had remarkable success with adolescents 
guilty of minor misdemeanors. In this institution boys and 
girls, while engaged in economic production, largely govern 



THE STATE 379 

themselves and acquire a fine sense of honor and social respon- 
sibility. Thomas Mott Osborne" had remarkable success in 
carrying out similar ideas with adult offenders in the. state 
penitentiaries of New York. Hardened offenders placed on 
their honor and made collectively responsible for good behavior 
while enjoying special privileges proved trustworthy to a re- 
markable degree. Many of them afterwards became useful 
citizens. A criminal is such because he has failed to acquire the 
moral judgments and virtues of society; if he can be placed in 
a society in which he will acquire appreciation of good faith 
and of the moral approval of others, he can be redeemed. If 
reformation can be effected, the purpose sought in the pre- 
vention theory is also accomplished. 

It is possible to educate the general public to feel greater 
indignation at some offenses than is now customary, and less 
resentment at others. For instance, the public is capable of 
learning to become more angry at political corruption, manipu- 
lation of the markets, exploitation of child labor, bootlegging, 
and other serious evils. On the other hand, public opinion is 
learning to be more tolerant of Sunday amusements, and of 
women who disregard minor conventions. 

While mankind in the reflective stage of morality realizes 
that anger is not itself a sufficient justification for punishment, 
it insists on satisfying its resentment when such a course may 
be justified on principles like moral education, deterrence, pre- 
vention, and reformation. But society will consent to no appli- 
cation of these principles that proceeds further than is neces- 
sary to justify its resentment. For example, it might seem to 
be a logical application of the idea of reformation to confine 
vagrants and drunkards for long periods; for otherwise they 
are not likely to be cured. Again, it might logically be argued 
that deterrence would be more effective if the families of 
criminals were executed or imprisoned together with them. 
Society would never sanction such measures as these, which 
carry the idea of deterrence to extremes that exceed social re- 
sentment. Many murderers take life under peculiar circum- 



380 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

stances, and if they were free, they would never commit another 
crime; logically the theories of prevention and reformation 
might seem to imply that they ought not to be punished at 
all; but society would never allow its resentment to be denied 
satisfaction because of such considerations. Some criminologists 
think that their diagnoses show that certain first offenders 
guilty of trifling crimes are irreformable, and ought to be con- 
fined for life; it hardly seems likely that the general public 
can ever be led to approve of such drastic treatment. Public 
indignation is the mainspring of all prosecution of criminals. 
Society will not sanction punishments either milder or more 
severe than those for which its resentment calls. 

There will always be cases in which public indignation cannot 
be restrained. For instance, if a President of the United States 
is assassinated, or a white woman is raped by a negro, or a 
country banker embezzles the savings of his community, the 
guilty person if caught is sure of punishment, regardless of 
whether he is entirely sane, or whether there are extenuating 
circumstances. Perhaps this is not altogether to be regretted. 
A psychiatrist has informed the author that mentally deranged 
people are morally responsible to a certain limited extent, and 
that deterrence is operative among them to the same extent. 
The mental and moral condition of such persons is benefited if 
they are held morally responsible so far as practicable. It is 
disastrous for them to come to think that their mental condi- 
tion affords them complete moral immunity. If deterrence is 
operative to some extent even among the partially insane, they 
as well as other persons tempted to do wrong under extenuating 
circumstances can often be deterred, if they know in advance 
that the crimes to which they are tempted would not be for- 
given. If the half crazy fanatics in the country generally knew 
that if one of them were to kill the President, he could escape 
with a plea of insanity, would the life of any President be safe 
for a week? 

As a general principle, with a very few possible exceptions 
such as the preceding paragraph suggests, only persons who are 



THE STATE .. 381 

undoubtedly sane and morally responsible should be punished 
by the state. Other persons, who have committed what would 
have been crimes if they were morally responsible, may need to 
be confined for the safety of society and for their own good. 
They should be placed in sanitariums and hospitals, given 
medical treatment, and released only when, if ever, it is safe to 
do so. Some psychiatrists in recent years have claimed that 
the number of mentally unbalanced offenders is greater than 
is usually supposed, and that the ordinary legal tests for sanity 
and moral responsibility are inadequate. Psychiatry is as yet 
by no means an exact science ; but there seems to be ground for 
the belief that many unfortunates who were not morally re- 
sponsible have been unjustly punished in the past, and for hope 
that in the future many similar persons can be cured and made 
useful members of society. 

Society is partly responsible for the fact that some boys 
and girls go wrong. Born and bred in slums, with no play- 
grounds but city streets during childhood, with only vicious 
places of amusement accessible when older, with scant opportu- 
nities for a useful education, and with few resources for making 
an honest livelihood, they drift into crime. On the contrary, it 
should be pointed out that many persons who have grown up 
in such unfavorable circumstances, notwithstanding have led 
useful lives, while a few, despite their handicaps, have risen to 
posts of eminence. ^^ No one is wholly the victim of his environ- 
ment. No person should be encouraged to pity and excuse 
himself, and to believe that he is a victim of circumstances. 

Without for a moment denying the moral responsibility of 
sane persons for their own acts, or condoning their crimes, it 
should be recognized that society ought to do all it can to as- 
sure every child and young person a favorable moral environ- 
ment. The abolition of the saloon has been a step in the right 
direction. Improved housing conditions, more schools, and 
better homes, more active churches, are needed. A new munici- 
pal recreation center or social settlement will often make an 
enlarged jail unnecessary. 



382 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

In concluding this section a few words may be added on the 
problem of capital punishment. It is generally agreed that this 
penalty should only be imposed in cases of willful and premedi- 
tated murder, treason, and similar extreme offenses. Those 
who believe that capital punishment should not be imposed 
even in these cases urge that it is brutal, shocks the sensibilities 
of the public, creates maudlin sympathy for those sentenced, 
has a bad influence on the moral education of the public, and 
makes juries reluctant to convict when they think it likely that 
judges will impose death sentences. Those who argue on the 
other side say that only the most depraved type of offender 
receives capital punishment in our time. If given life imprison- 
ment such a man is often ready to kill his guards in the attempt 
to escape. If he has wealth or influence he is likely to employ 
questionable methods to secure a pardon. It is urged that to 
keep a person in prison for life is really more cruel than to 
execute him. Modern methods of execution are the most pain- 
less science can devise, far more so than most natural deaths. 
It is expensive to the public to keep an offender in confinement 
for years; the same amount of money diverted to schools and 
recreation centers might save several boys and girls from ever 
going to prison. It is further argued that if capital punishment 
were not imposed in the most aggravated cases, the public 
would not realize how wrong they are; execution of the worst 
offenders is sanctioned by public opinion and has a salutary 
influence on moral education. In some aggravated cases, if 
capital punishment could not be imposed, an enraged pubhc 
would lynch the offenders. While the author is personally 
inclined to favor capital punishment in extreme cases, he ad- 
mits that the question is debatable, and one difficult to consider 
dispassionately. 

VII. War 

War has played important functions in moral and social evo- 
lution as a socializing, an individualizing, and a rationalizing 
agency. ^^ When the call comes, men lay aside their ordinary 



THE STATE 383 

individualistic pursuits, forget their jealousies, and sacrifice all, 
if need be, to work and perhaps to die for the common cause. It 
has been chiefly through wars that larger social groups have been 
brought together under a common rule and nations have been 
formed. This has made possible greater facilities for trade, 
specialization of industries, the rise of the relation of Authority, 
and the appearance of civilization. The two ancient and modern 
peoples who were blended from the most warlike stocks, the 
Romans and the English, have contributed most to the develop- 
ment of law and government, just because they were the most 
pugnacious peoples with the greatest number of quarrels to be 
settled. Folk by disposition more peaceable, like those of India 
and China, have been less successful in political development. 2° 

War has been an individualizing agency of great importance 
in history. It evokes the exertion of one's powers of initiative 
and endurance to the utmost, whether he be officer, common 
soldier, ambulance driver, executive, surgeon, manufacturer of 
munitions, or producer of supplies that directly or indirectly 
are of aid in the common effort. The same is true of women, 
whether they serve as nurses, do useful work of various kinds 
at home to help the men at the front, or engage in the necessary 
economic tasks that men would do at ordinary times. Men 
insignificant in peace suddenly become aroused, and accomplish 
achievements of which no one had deemed them capable. Crom- 
well and Grant are notable instances. Every one can recall 
men of his own acquaintance of whom this has been true in 
less degree. 

War has also been a rationalizing agency. Most inventions 
during the classical period of Greece and Rome, and much of the 
progress in the arts and crafts in all ages has been induced by 
the necessities of war. Military art and science call for the 
highest powers of reflection and ingenuity. Much that is great 
in literature, music, architecture, painting, and sculpture has 
been produced because of war. 

And yet the great costs in human suffering, in economic 
exhaustion, in the breeding of hatred and ill will, have long led 



384 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

war to be regarded as the most terrific scourge which has 
afflicted the human race. The ancient Greeks recognized 
these evils, and their pubhc conscience began to disapprove of 
wholesale massacres and enslavements, at least when fellow 
Greeks were concerned. In consequence they made the first 
attempts in Europe to establish leagues, arbitration courts, and 
international law. As the Romans became more cultured, 
their consciences, too, revolted at the needless cruelties which 
their generals and armies had perpetrated. They manifested a 
high sense of honor in obtaining treaty relations with other 
peoples. During the Roman empire the areas which it included 
enjoyed peace for longer periods than ever before, or than 
they have experienced since its fall. 

Many of the early Christians seem to have been pacifists, 
and to have disapproved of war altogether, and some of them 
preferred martyrdom to service in the Roman army. After 
Christianity became the ruling religion of the empire, its attitude 
of necessity had to change. St. Augustine and other Fathers of 
the Church approved of war in defense of the empire against 
the inroads of the barbarians, and for such other reasons as 
seemed to them morally justifiable. With the coming of the 
middle ages, the Church was forced to make still further con- 
cessions. It was impossible to convert the barbarians to pac- 
ificism or even to exclusively defensive warfare. So the Church 
did what she could. She exalted the peaceful life of the monk 
as a counsel of perfection, while she gave to the layman the 
ideals of chivalry. The investiture of the knight was a religious 
ceremony, in which he vowed to fight only for worthy causes, 
and covenanted "to defend the church, to attack the wicked, 
to respect the priesthood, to protect women and the poor, to 
preserve the country in tranquility and to shed his blood in 
behalf of his brethren." The Church had more or less success 
in instituting the "Truce of God" in some parts of Europe, 
according to which peace was to be observed during Lent and 
Advent and for portions of every week throughout the year. 
Popes endeavored to mediate between warring princes, and 



THE STATE 385 

sometimes succeeded in effecting peace. The Church, however, 
did not disapprove of wars against infidels and heretics. 

With the coming of the Renaissance the evils of warfare were 
seen to be an impediment to the progress of commerce and the 
arts, as well as the higher and more cultured standards of life. 
As early as 1461, Poebrad, king of Bohemia, proposed a federal 
state, to consist of all existing Christian states, with a permanent 
congress at Basle. Similar proposals were subsequently made 
from time to time, but nothing came of them. With the Ref- 
ormation, religious wars of unparalleled ferocity and destruc- 
tiveness ensued, of which the worst was the Thirty Years' War. 

During the course of this war Grotius published his De jure 
belli et pads, the foundation of modern international law. In 
the cause of peace he appealed to a law of nature more funda- 
mental than the laws of any earthly state, which God Himself 
must obey, and which alone makes society possible. He also 
tried to formulate rules limiting the justifiable causes for war, 
and prescribing greater humanity in the conduct of warfare. 
Grotius had marked influence. States thereafter tried to fol- 
low his principles, or at least made a pretense of doing so. In- 
structions were issued by most states to their military officers 
modeled along the lines of his work. 

By the time of the Great War of 1914, the following seemed 
to have become established moral judgments in the conscience 
of Europe: (1) Treaties should be faithfully kept; otherwise, 
there could be no international good faith whatsoever. (2) 
Warfare should be resorted to only after all other recourses 
have failed, and then only for morally justifiable reasons, such 
as national defense, national independence, and the protection 
of citizens ; but not for conquest, glory, or economic expansion. 
Pubhc opinion was undecided to what extent it was right to 
engage in war to liberate another nation, or to protect the 
property of a nation's citizens in other lands. It was the- duty 
of a state to come to the support of another state that had 
already been attacked, to which it was bound by treaties of 
alliance for mutual defense. Once a state had entered war, 



386 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

the rights of neutrals were to be respected. Warfare should 
be conceived to be between governments and not individuals, 
from which it followed : — that women, children, and other non- 
combatants must not be molested, provided that they should 
faithfully obey the regulations announced by the invaders; 
that no private property might be destroyed except for military 
necessity; that pillaging and booty should be forbidden; that 
no unfortified places might be bombarded; that quarter must 
be given if asked in good faith; that prisoners must be treated 
humanely ; that no one should be compelled to serve in military 
operations against his own country. 

Probably the people of no country believed that they entered 
the Great War of 1914 in violation of these principles. Whether 
and to what extent rulers knew differently is a matter of con- 
troversy, and it is not the author's purpose here to express his 
opinion regarding the amount of "war guilt" that should be 
charged against any European government then in existence. 
That is a problem for the historian rather than the moral 
philosopher. He will, however, dogmatically state that he 
believes that it was the duty of the United States of America 
to enter the War, in the manner that they did, in 1917. 

The rules for the conduct of war were probably observed 
most of the time during the course of the War of 1914. They 
were frequently violated, however, because each side believed 
that the other had already broken them and that reprisals had 
become necessary; and because "mihtary necessity" proved 
too elastic an excuse. Since all the largest states were drawn 
into the War, neither side felt compelled to keep within bounds 
in order to retain the good will of great and powerful neutral 
nations. The few smaller nations, like Holland, Switzerland, 
and the Scandinavian countries, that remained neutral, were 
able to exercise comparatively little moral influence. 

New moral problems arose because the methods of warfare 
had changed since previous wars, and some conventions 
formerly agreed upon were no longer clearly applicable. The 
invention of new poisonous gases, and the development of 



THE STATE 387 

submarines and aeroplanes are illustrations. Then, too, all 
the resources of every nation were called forth to an unpar- 
alleled extent in the conflict, and questions arose whether the 
inhabitants of occupied territory could be called upon for 
activities, not of a definitely military character, yet which would 
indirectly assist an invading enemy in the conduct of the war. 

Certain moral benefits have come from the Great War, — for 
instance, more peoples enjoy Citizenship in free states; treaties 
will henceforth be more faithfully kept; there will be less secret 
diplomacy and intrigue. But if there had been no conflict, 
these benefits would have come in time, and at less terrific cost 
in human life and welfare. Social and moral evolution will go 
on more swiftly in the future if perpetual peace can be main- 
tained. Moral equivalents for the high idealism, self-sacrifice, 
and courage that war involves will, it is true, need to be found. 
William James was right in pointing out these benefits of wars in 
past history, and in raising the problem of "a moral equivalent 
for war", even if he did not succeed very well in proposing a 
solution.21 This, we hope, will be a problem that our descend- 
ants shall, as a result of enduring peace, have occasion to solve. 

What practical steps should be taken now and in the immedi- 
ate future to avert war belong rather in the provinces of students 
of diplomacy, international law, political science, economics, 
and modern history than in that of the moral philosopher. 
However, the latter may make a few observations. He may, 
for instance, plead for more mutual tolerance between the 
advocates of different remedies. Nothing is more unfair than for 
the partisans of certain policies to accuse their opponents of the 
lack of moral principles and ethical insight. Those in our own 
country who plead for moderate military preparedness, including 
compulsory military training in some of our schools, are no more 
and no less moral than those who advocate pacifism. Both 
desire universal peace; they differ only in their practical judg- 
ment how to bring it about. Both those who affirm that the 
United States should enter the League of Nations and the 
World Court and those who believe that America should re- 



388 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

main officially independent, but should unofficially cooperate 
with Europe, are sincere. Both are actuated by the moral 
conviction that our government should at once protect the 
freedom and security of our people and also cooperate with 
other nations for the welfare of our common humanity. 

Most to be censured from the moral point of view, is the un- 
conscious national egotism of those who assume that the people 
of the United States are superior in moral wisdom and integrity 
to the citizens of other free states, — whether from this they 
draw the inference that we should therefore keep aloof from 
Europe, and not allow ourselves to be contaminated ; or whether 
they draw the opposite conclusion and say that we ought to 
send representatives to Europe to tell the people there how to 
manage their own affairs. In view of the fact that we insist 
upon a great navy, although oceans separate us from any power 
of comparable strength, we are hardly in a moral position to 
reprove the British for naval preparedness, or the French for 
their standing army. More humility would become us as a 
nation. 

VIII. Internationalism 

Patriotism, as we have seen, is the virtuous form of the senti- 
ment of nationalism. The patriot loves his countrj^, so he is 
faithful to his civil and political duties. He votes conscien- 
tiously and intelligently. He pays his taxes and other financial 
obligations. He obeys the laws and does what he can to pro- 
mote the welfare and increase the happiness of fellow citizens 
in his immediate locality and in the nation. He is willing to 
enter politics, if he is competent and his services are needed. 
He is ready to serve his country in war time, laying down his 
life in its behalf if necessary. The true patriot is proud of his 
country. For this reason, he is jealous of its honor and in- 
sistent that his national government should be scrupulously 
just and generous in its dealings with other nations, both small 
and great. It would be intolerable for his government to slink 
among other nations as a coward, or to play the part of a brag- 



THE STATE 389 

gart or a bully. Just because he is a patriot, he respects other 
free nations. He is sympathetic but not condescending in his 
attitude toward nations that have not yet attained the plane 
of Citizenship. He realizes that other nations often lead in 
culture, science, and art, in which he desires his fellow citizens 
to emulate them. He is also aware that his own nation may be 
superior in other ways, for instance in initiative and invention, 
in maintenance of high standards of living made possible by 
economic efficiency, and in wide diffusion of education and other 
forms of opportunity, — in short, in those features of democracy 
which are most important. He is never ashamed of his country, 
and never boastful of it. 

Just because a man has the virtue of patriotism, it is possible 
for him to extend this virtue and to become an internationalist. 
The same psychological principle applies to patriotism that we 
have observed with reference to other virtues. Parents through 
love of their own children — a sentiment with tender emotion 
as its nucleus — learn to love children in general, and to be sup- 
porters of measures for the promotion of child welfare. People 
who are thrifty in management of their own affairs acquire the 
virtue of economy, and appreciate sound financial management 
in governmental undertakings. In like manner, the gregarious 
impulse in the development of the individual and the race acts 
as a nucleus for a sentiment of loyalty to clan or village or city; 
it later becomes extended to the nation as patriotism; it is 
capable of further extension to include the whole of humanity. 
He who does not love his own country is hardly capable of 
appreciating the sentiment that other men have for their coun- 
tries, or the common devotion that all men may sometime have 
for a commonwealth of nations. 

Opposed to virtuous nationalism or patriotism, on the one 
hand, is vicious nationalism or chauvinism, and on the other, 
cosmopolitanism. Chauvinism or jingoism is the vice that 
prompts a man to glorify his nation by running down other 
nations. It is the vice of the man who goes about Europe tell- 
ing everybody how much better everything is done in America, 



390 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

and who can himself learn nothing from a tour of older and in 
many ways more cultured nations. The American jingoist 
looks down upon foreigners in his own country as "micks", 
"dagoes", "wops", and "hunkies"; he can see no good in 
them, and feels no humanity toward them. He wishes history 
taught to show that all the heroes of his nation have always 
been right and that its opponents have always been wrong. 
He thinks his government should grab all the territory that it 
can, and that the inhabitants of exploited countries have no 
rights that his needs respect. His alone is "God's country", 
and he is a "hundred percenter". 

Cosmopolitanism is the contrary vice. The cosmopolite 
looks upon national patriotism as an outworn and provincial 
superstition. The American cosmopolite is seldom home to 
vote. He often prefers to live in Europe, but keeps his citizen- 
ship in the United States, to escape taxation in the country 
where he prefers to spend his time. He is ashamed of his fellow 
Americans, and imitates European manners. He believes that 
if nobody cared for any country any more than he does for 
his, there could be no wars for nobody would be willing to fight. 
His remedy for national rivalries and jealousies is national 
apathy. He believes himself to be unusually broad-minded 
and tolerant. To the people of the country in which he stays 
he is naturally a foreigner; when after long years abroad he re- 
turns to his own country conditions have so greatly changed in 
certain directions and his own point of view in others that he 
finds himself unable to understand his boyhood friends or they 
him. He has expatriated himself. He has become the most 
pathetic of all persons, a man without a country. 

The patriot who becomes an internationalist is the person 
whose sympathy and vision are broad enough to enable him 
to appreciate that the people of other nations love their coun- 
tries and have equal rights with him and his country. He seeks 
to understand other nations and to help them to understand 
his own. He believes that national rivalries, ill will, and wars 
are in large measure due to lack of understanding and not to 



THE STATE 391 

malice. He believes that if all men were intelligent patriots, all 
would see that the ultimate interests of their own nations can 
only be realized in a world of international security, justice, 
and good will.^^ 

Internationalism is being promoted in the world in many 
ways at the present time. There is more interchange of ideas 
through increased study by each free nation of the languages, 
literatures, and scientific contributions of the others. There is 
more foreign travel by the citizens of each nation, this being 
particularly true of students, teachers, and merchants. Inter- 
national athletic contests promote good will. International 
aerial flights have attracted wide attention everywhere, and 
have helped to bring the world together in sympathy. Chris- 
tianity has always professedly been an international religion; 
world conferences representative of the religious denomina- 
tions of different countries are bringing Protestants everywhere 
into better mutual understanding. The Roman Catholics 
have always maintained allegiance to an international church. 
There are a multitude of international conferences every year, 
representing all kinds of human interests and activities. 

As the inhabitants of the earth become more internationally 
minded, it will be easier to remove causes of friction between 
states. Each nation groaning under heavy burdens of arma- 
ment deemed indispensable for safety will realize that neigh- 
boring peoples are only enduring military burdens because 
of reciprocal fear, are equally deploring the cost of mili- 
tary preparedness, and would be glad to unite with them in 
steps toward mutual disarmament. Nations that need mar- 
kets in order that their working people may find employment in 
industries are capable of appreciating similar needs in other na- 
tions; they ought therefore to be able to arrive at a mutually 
satisfactory understanding regarding the exploitation of un- 
developed countries. People in the latter need capital, and as 
they become more politically experienced and self-controlled, 
they will gladly offer terms favorable to foreign investors, and 
will keep faith with them. Most conflicts between nations as 



392 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

well as between individuals are due to lack of thought and 
understanding, failure to appreciate the interests and point of 
view of others. Once people in different nations really under- 
stand one another, they will soon become able to adjust their 
relations amicably.-^ 

International sentiment, the author believes, can be pro- 
moted in many other ways. Just as now there are national 
patriotic songs expressing love for country, there might be 
international songs expressing love for humanity. There ought 
to be an international flag, symbolic of our common human 
brotherhood. Auguste Comte devised a calendar, in which 
every day of the year was commemorative of some one who had 
served mankind notably. Some such calendar should be drawn 
up by international agreement. Newspapers each day all over 
the world could then call to the attention of their readers the 
name of the great man to be remembered on that day; school 
children could learn what he did for the world. Statues of 
Humanity might stand in public parks everywhere, side by 
side with statues of the particular country — America, Britannia, 
la France, Deutschland, Italia, etc., as the case might be. 

The ultimate step in social evolution — it may be many cen- 
turies before it arrives — would be the federation of all nations 
into a world state. Just as clans and village communities be- 
came consolidated into little authoritarian kingdoms, and these 
into national states, so the logical inference is that the latter 
will sometime become united into a world federation. The 
majority of consolidations in the past were the result of con- 
quest; but there have been exceptions. The United States of 
America and Switzerland originated as voluntary federations 
of free "states" and cantons, and the larger patriotism has 
strengthened and not annihilated attachment to the lesser unit. 
So the international loyalty, whenever it shall come, will not 
appear in the guise of cosmopolitanism, but of an international- 
ism that will satisfy national patriotisms, because the desire 
of every patriot is for the ultimate security and full develop- 
ment of his own nation. New York, Texas, and California are 



THE STATE 393 

all greater "states" because of the Union; Geneva, Luzern, and 
Lugano are stronger, safer, and more prosperous because of 
their membership in the Swiss Confederation. Every nation 
will not only be more secure, but also will have a fuller opportu- 
nity for the expression of its own genius, when, at last, all na- 
tional states shall have advanced far enough in the spirit of 
internationalism to be ready for a federal union. ^^ 

REFERENCES 

* J. Dewey and J. H. Tufts, Ethics, chaps. XX, XXI. 

* J. A. Leigh ton. The Individual and the Social Order, chaps. XXXIV- 

XXXVI. 

* T. V. Smith, The Democratic Way of Life. 

* J. H. Tufts, Our Democracy. The Real Business of Living. 

* S. E. Mezes, Ethics, Descriptive and Explanatory, chapter on Justice. 

* L. T. Hobhouse, Morals in Evolution. 

* J. S. Mill, Liberty. Representative Government. 

* J. H. Wigmore, editor. Rational Basis of Legal Institutions, Parts 

I,V. 

* Marcus Kavanagh, The Criminal and His Allies. 

* H. Baker-Crothers and Ruth Hudnut, Problems of Citizenship, chaps. 

XXIV-XXXI. 
W. E. H. Lecky, Democracy and Liberty. 
T. H. Green, Principles of Political Obligation. 
Herbert Spencer, Justice. 
Henry Sidgwick, Elements of Politics. 
W. W. Willoughby, Nature of the State. 
W. A. Dunning, History of Political Theories. 

References to special topics are given in the Notes to this chapter. 



CHAPTER XVI 
DISTRIBUTIVE JUSTICE 

I. The Relation of Ethics to Economics 

Distributive Justice demands that every one obtain the 
share in the values of Hfe that he individually deserves, and 
that it will promote the common good for him to receive. It 
matters little, whether with the Utilitarians, it is asserted that 
all values can be comprehended within happiness; or whether, 
with the Eudaemonists, a diversity of values is thought essential 
to complete welfare. In either case it is impossible to think of 
happiness, character, and culture as if they were commodities 
that could be distributed among people ; the problem of distrib- 
utive justice is not this, but how to assure to every one a real 
opportunity to acquire these values by his own efforts. Since 
it is with reference to economic conditions that the social order 
is both most subject to criticism and also most capable of im- 
provement, the discussion of distributive justice centers chiefly, 
though not wholly, about the ethical side of economic processes. 
In criticism of the economic system, it is not the province of 
modern ethics to propose idealistic social arrangements that are 
impracticable because they are in violation of economic laws.^ 
But within the range of economically practicable possibilities, 
it is the duty of ethics to consider what is moralty preferable.^ 

Let us try to illustrate very simply how the range of ethical 
inquiry is limited by economic conditions. It would be morally 
desirable, if it were economically possible, that every man, 
woman, and child should have just as large a share in all the 
goods of modern civilization as would most further his welfare 
and happiness. This would probably imply that every one 
receive the equivalent of at least five thousand dollars a year, 
at the present level of prices. The present per capita national 

394 



DISTRIBUTIVE JUSTICE 395 

income in the richest country of the earth is, of course, not 
nearly so much.^ So the problem of distributive justice, con- 
fronted by economic realities, becomes something like this :— by 
what arrangements can the present national income be dis- 
tributed in order to accomplish two purposes: first, to afford 
most opportunity to each individual now living, and secondly, to 
stimulate production so that there will be a larger and more 
adequate national income in the future? Neither of these two 
ends must be overlooked in consideration of the problem as a 
whole. 

II. Property Rights 

The oldest theories of the rights of property were intuitional 
and authoritarian. That "every man has a right to his own" 
is self-evident; the word property means "one's own " (proprius). 
"Thou shalt not steal" is a Hebrew commandment. "Render 
to each his due" is an old precept in Greek thought, which 
Roman law came to recognize as one of the three essential 
principles which comprise all justice.^ That theft and embezzle- 
ment are morally wrong is obvious to almost every one. While 
all radicals condemn our present system of property rights, 
very few of them would defend an individual who appropriates 
the property of another. All must play the game according to 
present rules until it has been agreed to change them. The 
reason is evident. There could be no social or personal security 
at all, if every individual were thought justified in laying his 
hands on anything that he chose. ^ 

The question may be raised whether the rules of the game 
are fair, or whether they might be improved. What is the 
ethical justification for the system of private property as we 
know it to-day? 

The first famous attempt to answer this question in modern 
times was made by John Locke (f 1704).^ He succeeded in 
showing that, under primitive conditions, a man can acquire a 
property right by appropriating goods, of which no one has 
possession, and mixing them with his own labor. Thus a savage 



396 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

could collect some apples or acorns in a wood, heap them in a 
pile, and they would rightfully be his property. Locke added the 
stipulation that the savage would not be right if he appropriated 
more than he could use, and that there must be abundant goods 
left, which others could appropriate if they made the necessary 
exertion. Locke's principle works out satisfactorily under 
simple pioneer conditions. In it we can see the justification 
for the national homestead laws, which provided that a settler 
could enter a claim for a quarter section of public land, and 
after putting a certain amount of labor in clearing, cultivating, 
and otherwise improving it, gain a title. But it was harder for 
Locke to apply the principle to the conditions of his own time, 
and it would be still more difficult to do so to-day. 

Every one will admit that a man is morally entitled to the 
whole product of his own labor. It is also his right, and it may 
be his duty, to preserve part of this, and so to acquire capital. 
If he lends his capital to others, it is right that they should pay 
him for the use of it. And it is his right to bequeath his capital 
to his heirs, and their right to inherit it from him.'^ But what is 
the product of one's labor? The older individualists took it 
largely for granted that the property that a man holds, can be 
presumed, in the lack of evidence to the contrary, to be the 
product of his own labor, thrift, and self-denial, or that of those 
from whom he inherited it. But if land values increase, through 
no effort on the part of the holders, but by the growth of the 
community, is not the increased increment unearned by its 
holders? ^ And how far ought the rights of inheritance to extend? 
Have the descendants of a man who has amassed a fortune the 
right to hold it forever, and live in economic idleness upon its 
income, provided that they keep it productively invested? 

Consider the price paid for a commodity. Suppose a man 
buys a suit of clothes at an agreed price. How much of this cost 
to the consumer represents the labor respectively of the man who 
raised the sheep, of those who scoured the wool, of those who 
made it into cloth, of the tailors who cut and sewed the gar- 
ments, of those engaged in the transportation and sale of the 



DISTRIBUTIVE JUSTICE 397 

materials as they passed from one stage to another in the indus- 
trial process? How much should be reckoned as the proper 
earnings of land and capital? There are few articles of con- 
sumption to-day which do not pass through many hands be- 
tween the producers of the original raw material and the seller 
of the finished product. How much has each producer con- 
tributed, and how much of the final selling price ought he there- 
fore to receive? It seems impossible to determine. Perhaps 
you say, as the classical economists did, that with free competi- 
tion between those engaged in each step of the process, each 
will receive approximately his proper share. However, who 
knows this? The farmer may have had to sell his wool at an 
excessively low price, because of temporarily unfavorable market 
conditions. Workingmen cannot readily move from one place 
to another to seek work where wages are highest; and if they 
have specialized trades there may be only one possible employer 
for them, some powerful corporation. And what ground is 
there, anyway, for claiming that the law of supply and demand 
under free competition measures the value of services? 

From what has been said it will be seen that it is impos- 
sible in our complicated social and economic order to determine 
on intuitional grounds "what is one's own", or what is "the 
whole produce of labor" to which one has a natural right. 
Consequently no decision upon the justice of our present system 
of property rights, whether favorable or unfavorable, can be 
reached by way of Intuitionism. 

So we must consider the justice of the economic order, includ- 
ing property rights, from the teleological standpoints. Utilitarian 
and Eudsemonistic, and ask, ''Is human happiness increased 
and is human welfare furthered by the present system more 
than it would be by any practicable alternative?" 

An economic system that is efficient in producing the goods 
that society wants can claim to be effective in increasing- human 
happiness. Every one has been greatly benefited by the indus- 
trial revolution and the development of machinery. We are 
better fed, clothed, and housed; books and newspapers are 



398 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

cheaper and more plentiful; a multitude of recreations are 
possible for leisure hours; efficient production is constantly- 
shortening the necessary hours of labor. Man no longer works 
from sun to sun; while a woman whose home is supplied with 
modern electrical apparatus finds her work quickly done. 
Better living conditions and the development of medicine and 
surgery have greatly lengthened the average duration of human 
life. 

The effects of the economic process on character are important 
for the Eudsemonist. On the side of production, the virtue of 
economy is encouraged. Families are knit together in love and 
loyalty, as the father provides and the mother expends the 
family income for the good of all its members. On the side of 
consumption, the possession of property gives freer scope to the 
development of personality; a man and his family are not com- 
pletely at the mercy of changing circumstances; temporary 
unemployment does not mean destitution. Life can be planned 
with forethought; children can be educated and given a start 
in life; means for the expression of tastes and talents are avail- 
able. A business that a man has built up, and a home that a 
woman has made beautiful and helpful to its members, are both 
expressions of human personality, forms of self-realization; each 
generally implies the possession of property. A permanent 
position and a calculable salary in some ways are a substitute for 
capital, since security is afforded, and life can be planned in- 
telligently. But there is a certain development of character 
acquired by the self-denial, foresight, and business judgment 
implied in the accumulation and investment of even small 
amounts of capital, that can be gained in no other way. 

On the other side of the account, it may be replied that 
only a minority of the population is able to accumulate property, 
and to obtain the benefits that come from its possession. More- 
over the wealth in existence is most unevenly distributed.^ A 
few persons are spoiled by riches, and would be better and 
happier if they had to work for a living. A large proportion are 
forced to toil for mere pittances, and cannot count on regular 



DISTRIBUTIVE JUSTICE 399 

employment. Under our present capitalistic system men are 
incited to economic effort by the desire for profit for the benefit 
of their families and themselves, and not by the disinterested 
wish to serve the common good. 

As a rejoinder it may be urged that it is better that some 
rather than none should possess property. The existence of 
capital makes large scale production possible. Every producer 
is in some measure better off than any person doing the same 
work was in the era before the industrial revolution and the con- 
sequent creation of capital on a large scale. The wholesale de- 
struction of capital would be a calamity to every one. A better 
life is opened to all by the presence in the community of some 
persons with wealth, and the culture that it can afford to its 
possessors and those whom they employ. A poor farmer who 
cannot afford to send his own children to the state university 
is better off because of its existence, and the presence of liberally 
and technically educated persons in the community. 

It may be asked, however, whether communism, socialism, 
or some other form of collectivism might not assure a more 
just social order than we now have. Before facing this ques- 
tion, it will be necessary to find some canon of distributive 
justice in the light of which we can consider the respective 
merits of capitalism and collectivism. First of all, we must 
formulate the underlying principle on which such a canon can 
be based. This principle is equality of consideration.^ 

III. Equality of Consideration 

In our time and country, it is unnecessary to refute the type 
of aristocratic philosophy which affirmed that the perfection 
of a few is of greater good than the well being of mankind in 
general. ^"^ Nobody believes this to-day, at least in America. 
So we can safely assume that all readers will agree that equality 
in economic and all other activities and rewards is morally desir- 
able, and that privileges should be afforded to a few only on 
condition that the happiness and welfare of all will thereby 
in the long run be promoted more than by absolute equality. 



400 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

The primary good is the happiness and welfare of all; equality is 
to be preferred to inequality, except when the latter will he the 
more conducive to this primary good. The burden of proof must 
rest upon the advocate of preference or privilege in any form. 

First, absolute equality cannot be afforded every one if the 
monogamous family is allowed to remain in its present form, 
and parents are permitted to bring up their own children. 
Some fathers and mothers are far more competent than others, 
so that their children have an enormous advantage. But if all 
children were taken away from their parents at an early age 
and brought up- in institutions where impartial nurses and 
governesses would give absolutely equal opportunity, it is safe 
to say that the great majority would grow up under far more 
unfavorable conditions than now. There are indeed a few 
vicious or totally incompetent parents whose children ought to 
be taken from them and put into institutions; or, still better, 
adopted into homes where they will receive love and care.^^ 
Fortunately such cases are rare ; for most children their own par- 
ents and homes, however humble, are better than any substitute. 

Secondly, absolute equality would imply that all persons re- 
ceive exactly the same education. This is obviously absurd. 
But it may be asked, — "Ought not all to receive as much educa- 
tion as they wish, and are mentallj^ able to acquire"? The re- 
ply would be, that no nation is wealthy enough to provide this 
as yet. Perhaps we should regard it as an ultimate goal. AVe 
are certainly moving in this direction, in comparison with 
previous generations, although we still have a long way to go. 
In the meantime, it is better that a few of those who are com- 
petent to become physicians, lawyers, engineers, architects, 
poets, painters, university professors, and clergymen should 
receive the best training which human knowledge and eco- 
nomic resources make possible, rather than that no one should 
be permitted to speciaHze. Everybody in the nation is benefited 
in this case by the privileges of the few. 

Thirdly, it is better for society in general that men who have 
the ability to carry on farming, manufacturing, commerce, and 



DISTRIBUTIVE JUSTICE 401 

other forms of production under just conditions should be al- 
lowed the use of capital and the employment of workers. Such 
captains of industry increase the total amount of useful goods 
in existence, and so advance general happiness and welfare. 

Fourthly, it is of benefit to all that there should exist classes 
who as a result of inheritance possess "leisure" in the economic 
sense, i.e., who have independent incomes and do not have to 
be economically productive. A society would be unendurable 
in which all wealthy men had started with nothing and built 
up their own fortunes entirely. Many self-made men, indeed, 
perform great services and we are proud of them and grateful 
for their achievements. But most self-made business men are 
somewhat limited in their outlook; rarely are they good judges 
on questions of science, religion, pohtics, architecture, painting, 
drama, literature, music, education, and other fields unrelated 
to the business activities in which their experience makes them 
high authorities. Men of inherited wealth and economic lei- 
sure more often are intelhgent on these subjects. Much aesthetic 
achievement in the past has been possible only because such 
men appreciated good work and gave it their patronage. Will 
the great masses of a democracy ever be good judges in matters 
of culture? Is not the support and prestige of the leisure class 
the main hope that the arts will not all become hopelessly 
mediocre? The possession of independent means has enabled 
men to lead careers of social usefulness to an extent that other- 
wise would not have been possible. Charles Darwin, Theodore 
Roosevelt, Andrew D. White, and William James will serve 
as illustrations. 12 

Fifthly, a large amount of liberty of initiative is incompatible 
with equality. If society were to attempt to give every child 
an equal start, no persons of lower than average intelligence 
could be permitted to marry and have children; since their 
children would not be equally bright with the rest. The size 
of families would have to be regulated by the authorities. In a 
state where absolute equality of economic goods were assured to 
all, everybody would have to be compelled to work; vagrants 



402 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

and tramps would receive condign punishment. Where Hberty 
exists, it is bound to be abused by many. Under the present 
system those who abuse it are allowed to suffer the consequences. 
But under a system of perfect equality where all received equal 
rewards, every one would be compelled to work under super- 
vision. There are ardent collectivists who profess to be willing 
to give up their personal liberty entirely, and to have all their 
activities determined by officials, in order that absolute equality 
of reward could thereby be assured. Most of us, however, be- 
lieve that we would be both better and happier with more 
independence. We are not willing to sacrifice liberty for equal- 
ity in cases where the two are incompatible. 

In the preceding chapter we saw that every right implies a 
duty. This applies emphatically to every possessor of any 
special privilege. Any person fortunate enough to be born of 
wise and gifted parents in an exceptionally good home is one of 
the most highly privileged persons in the world. More than 
all others, he should lead a life of service. Every person with 
a good secondary or higher education has received benefits that 
cannot be provided to the majority; society has a right to ex- 
pect much of such persons. Every individual who has been 
able to amass a large fortune for himself or to inherit one from 
his ancestors is also privileged. The least that he can do in re- 
turn is to keep his capital invested productively. He ought not 
to spend the whole of a large income in self indulgence. He 
either should reinvest most of it, or else contribute freelj^ to the 
promotion of the arts or to philanthropy. If the inheritors of 
great wealth do not show that they are willing to use it in ways 
that benefit society, they must not complain if presently they 
find that most of it has been taken away from them through 
income and inheritance taxes. A leisure class of as little social 
worth as the French aristocracy before the Revolution will not 
be tolerated in the free states of the twentieth centurj\ 

There are privileged nations. Such morally owe a debt to 
humanity in return for their privileges. Here in the United 
States of America, a little more than one hundred million people 



DISTRIBUTIVE JUSTICE . 403 

are occupying a vast area with great natural resources, on which 
no doubt, at least four times as many people could live with 
standards of comfort and culture far superior to those now pos- 
sible for the coolies of China and India. Yet we exclude these 
latter from immigration into our country. Why, on the grounds 
of equality, is this just? The welfare and happiness of three 
hundred million people would be advanced at a sacrifice on the 
part of only one hundred million people. The only moral justifi- 
cation for our policy of exclusion can be, that we believe that 
we are effecting on this continent, in a free state, advances in 
science, culture, political institutions, and social welfare. By 
these the world as a whole in future generations and centuries 
will be benefited more than it would by the immediate relief of 
three hundred million Asiatics, at the cost of the submergence 
of the present American nation with its traditions and ideals. 
Our special privileges as a nation can be justified only on the 
presumption that through them we are rendering a compensa- 
tory service to humanity. 

The implications of the principle of equality of considera- 
tion have now been indicated. It has been seen that mankind 
ought to be on an equal basis, except when for some reason the 
general happiness and common welfare will be further advanced 
by giving preference in some way to certain individuals. Such 
exceptions are justified on condition that the privileged persons 
render important services to society that could not so readily 
be obtained in any other way. Those favored should be chosen 
on some ground other than arbitrary partiality. The first and 
best reason for preference is the possession of unusual talents 
and the will to use them. Secondly, considerations of social 
expediency enter, such as the integrity of the family, and the 
encouragement of parents to endeavor to provide liberally for 
their children; and, thirdly, the unwisdom of too much public 
interference with individual liberty. In a society in which no 
one possessed special privileges except for such reasons as these, 
there would not be absolute equality by any means, but the 
social order would be just. 



404 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

IV. A Canon of Distributive Justice 

We have seen that it is impossible, in our complex economic 
system, to calculate the value of the services which each individ- 
ual renders to society. We have also seen that equality of op- 
portunity in cultivation of the values of life should be main- 
tained, except when all, including future generations, will 
benefit by the bestowal of special privileges upon a chosen few. 
Our canon therefore follows: A just distribution of eco7iomic and 
other goods will render to the members of each class of society the 
facilities and rewards requisite to enable and to induce them to 
render the services which society has a right to expect of them. 
Men as a rule are virtuous and happy when they are success- 
fully performing the services for which they are competent; so 
it can be assumed that compliance with this canon will best assure 
the happiness and welfare of the individuals in each class of so- 
ciety. 

The significance of this canon can best be brought out by 
showing its application to different classes. Members of the 
professions should, if they are moderately successful, receive 
incomes sufficient to enable them to maintain the standard of 
living that will make them most efficient. This miplies suitable 
facilities for work and for study, books, scientific apparatus, 
freedom from distracting monetary anxieties, and opportunit}^ 
to travel in order to keep in touch with progress elsewhere in 
their professions. Brain workers are under severer mental and 
physical strain than manual workers; to keep fit, thej^ need 
more opportunity for recreation, more varied and appetizing 
food, and homes or offices in which they can study in quiet. 
It may be an unnecessary convention that thej^ need better 
clothes and household appointments than workingmen; but it 
is for the good of society that they have means for aesthetic 
gratification, since their class can and should do much to up- 
hold standards of taste in the community. 

If the professional classes are to be socially efficient, and the 
values of their homes are to be conserved, their families must 



DISTRIBUTIVE JUSTICE 405 

share their standards of living. A successful man should be 
in a position to give an education equal to his own to such of 
his children as are desirous and capable of it. This does "not 
entirely hold of course for the unsuccessful and inefficient, nor 
for those who have excessively large families. 

It is not necessary that professional men become possessors 
of large amounts of capital in order to be able to serve society, 
nor is possible wealth the inducement that will make them most 
efficient. In the army and navy, government civil service, 
teaching, and the religious ministry permanent tenure under 
good behavior with pensions on retirement is perhaps a sufficient 
financial arrangement; although society may be benefited if 
these classes are enabled and induced to accumulate and to in- 
vest small amounts of capital. To do this last develops a cer- 
tain integrity of character, practicality of judgment, and appre- 
ciation of economy in public affairs not otherwise obtainable. 
Those whose incomes consist of fees, as is the case with most 
physicians and lawyers, need to accumulate property to provide 
for emergencies and old age. It must be kept in mind that the 
rewards which incite to professional success are not chiefly 
financial; interest in the work, consciousness of service faith- 
fully rendered, and appreciation by colleagues and the general 
public count for more with the best professional men. 

How far do our present social arrangements comply with the 
canon, in case of the professional classes? The author sup- 
poses that physicians, lawyers, teachers in higher positions, 
and engineers in general have little ground for complaint. The 
salaries of government employees have not in most cases suf- 
ficiently advanced since the war; the same is true of some 
teachers, especially in elementary schools. The position of the 
average successful clergyman is most pitiful of all; his is the 
worst sweated industry in society to-day, measured by the 
canon. It is quite impossible for him and his family to main- 
tain the standard of living necessary for him to render to so- 
ciety the services that might be expected of him were he ade- 
quately paid. 



406 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

The function of the business man, whether merchant, manu- 
facturer, or banker, is directly or indirectly to supply the public 
with material commodities of good quality at reasonable prices, 
and to afford to those who work for him just wages and work- 
ing conditions. Wages are just, if they provide a standard of 
living sufficient to enable workers to render to society the serv- 
ices expected of them in accordance with the canon. Just 
working conditions include physically sanitary and morally 
wholesome surroundings, and such a voice in management 
and details of work that will give them self-respect and a senti- 
ment of loyalty to the business. To do all this, the business 
man requires capital and credit. He should therefore receive 
profits commensurate with the service he is actually rendering 
to society. The captain of industry who is a manager rather 
than owner should be able to pay customary rates of interest 
to bondholders, and dividends to stockholders commensurate 
with the service the business is actually rendering to society. 
A business man's motives are, and should be, more frankly 
economic than those of a professional man; under normal 
conditions his financial success is likely to be a correct 
measure of his services. The state should protect him from 
unfair competition, including local price cutting, fraudulent 
advertising, sweated industries, and like immoral and socially 
pernicious practices. Business men's associations should, so 
far as they can, formulate and promote codes of high moral 
standards in matters that have to be left to public opinion rather 
than to law enforcement. 

The highly successful business man under a capitalistic sys- 
tem should be able to make substantial profits and become a 
large property holder. His business success, under normal con- 
ditions, demonstrates his abihty to handle large amounts of 
capital wisely. He can be relied upon to invest his capital 
productively; which will be of benefit to the pubhc. Since such 
a man's interests are largely material, the possibility of a some- 
what lavish scale of living is often needed to incite him to his 
best efforts. Usuallj^ a man with less education than the pro- 



DISTRIBUTIVE JUSTICE 407 

fessional man, and less capable of aesthetic forms of recreation 
at small cost, he needs more luxuries. Still, there are limits to 
the expenditures which he ought to allow to himself and- his 
family. He should add considerable portions of his income to 
his productive investments, or expend them in benevolences. 
The general principle that should guide him is the canon of 
distributive justice; he and his family should only spend in 
their mode of living such sums as will render them most useful. 

Does our present economic order comply with the canon of 
distributive justice with reference to the business classes? 
Most readers will probably agree that it does, in a rough way. 
Although small business men are sometimes worsted in com- 
petition with large corporations, the general public is less 
disposed to complain at this to-day than a generation ago.^^ 
There still are many openings left for small enterprises. More- 
over, many a small business man finds himself more successful 
as an employe of a large concern. Take the case of a small 
merchant who has a staff of four or five sales people and a 
delivery man. Such a merchant has to be a successful buyer, 
advertiser, floorwalker, salesman, personnel man and window 
dresser. If he does not sell exclusively for cash, he must be a 
credit expert. Since few small merchants combine all these 
qualifications, most of them in every generation have ultimately 
failed. Such men often have one or more of these qualifications, 
however, and are capable of rising to high positions in the em- 
ployment of a corporation. The same principle applies to many 
small manufacturers and bankers. "Big business" has fur- 
nished opportunities to many who could not succeed in a small 
business. The whole question between big and small business 
is which is the more successful in serving consumers, giving bet- 
ter rewards to employes, and earning larger profits to investors. 
Whichever succeeds best in all these respects is ethically best. 
A moral philosopher hardly feels competent to judge; but the 
author supposes that the proportion of each now in existence 
approximates what it ought to be. 

The workers deserve a standard of hving that will enable 



408 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

them to do best the work in which they are engaged. This 
means as high wages, short hours, and regular employment as 
industry in its present stage of development can afford. It 
also means decent homes and sanitary places of work with 
wholesome moral conditions, and access to suitable forms of 
recreation. Workers should be insured against accident and 
death; and, if it can be made practicable, against sickness and 
unemployment. It is undoubtedly a social injustice that the 
people most helpless to avert industrial depression suffer most 
in consequence of it. Child labor should be made impossible. 
Machinery should not be sped beyond normal powers of human 
endurance. All employed in any industry deserve respect. 
Wages paid for piece work should be justly proportionate to 
the actual skill and labor involved. There should be redress 
against arbitrary foremen. All this implies that workers should 
in some way be given a voice in the conduct of those details of 
industrial processes that directly affect them and about which 
they have some knowledge. Workingmen are often impulsive 
and idealistic. If they are made to feel that they are real 
participants in their industrial processes and not mere cog- 
wheels in a machine, they become loyally cooperative, and take 
personal pride in the achievements of the firms which employ 
them. 14 

The condition of labor in most industries in the United 
States is highly favorable. The standard of living is the highest 
that the world has ever known. That there is much room for 
improvement, is implied in what has been said in the preceding 
paragraph. If such improvement is to take place, the canon of 
distributive justice implies that workers must do their part. 
They should not slack on the job; they must prevent waste; they 
must take pride in their work and be loyal to their firms; they 
must do their best in every way to make their industries suc- 
cessful. Unless a business is economically efficient, it cannot 
raise wages and reduce hours. Labor unions are coming in- 
creasingly to recognize that workers have duties corresponding 
to their rights; and that it is economically impossible for them 



DISTRIBUTIVE JUSTICE 409 

to secure better terms unless they help to make business profit- 
able.^^ It is conceded that unions are needed to protect workers 
in their rights, and to win for them a just share in the prosperity 
of their industries. 

Much complaint is made, though more by theorists than by 
labor leaders or workers, that under large scale production 
labor is too monotonous. Instead of making a whole article — a 
watch, a pair of shoes, or what not, which in former times re- 
quired high personal skill and craftsmanship, the worker con- 
stantly has to repeat the same stupid, monotonous task, per- 
haps every minute or once every ten seconds! This undoubtedly 
is a drawback in modern industry. However, the worker is 
compensated by shorter hours and higher wages. As a consumer 
he can buy articles at lower prices. From the old days of hand 
workmanship has come down to us the proverb that the cob- 
bler's wife has no shoes. It is probable that the cobbler in those 
times was too poor to make them for her; it took costly leather 
and many hours of labor; while food and fuel were more press- 
ing necessities that were very dear in terms of his real wages. 
A hundred years ago, a newspaper, or the postage on a letter, 
were luxuries that working people could hardly afford. More- 
over, there must have been many workers in those times, just 
as there are to-day, who were incapable of good craftsmanship. 
The finest and not the average specimens of their work have 
been preserved for us to admire in museums. The ordinary 
laborer often has a mediocre mind, for which monotonous tasks 
are best suited. Intelligence tests show that the bulk of the 
population is not brilliant, and presumably would do nothing 
remarkable if engaged in craftsmanship. It is not true, as is 
sometimes alleged, that workers to-day can find nothing in- 
teresting in their work. If the humblest toiler can learn some- 
thing of the complete operation of which his own task forms a 
necessary part, he will become conscious of the joys of creative 
work.^^ The main thing most workers wish, is to receive the 
recognition and appreciation, by their employers and by their 
own associates, to which their success at their jobs entitles them. 



410 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

The farmer deserves an adequate standard of living, and 
expert advice about the use of fertihzers, rotation of crops, 
means of fighting bhghts and pests, and methods of accounting 
costs. He should have access to capital on low terms of inter- 
est, and be encouraged to save and eventually to own his farm. 
He should be assisted in cooperative marketing of his products, 
and cooperative purchase of his supplies, so that there will be 
few intermediaries between him and consumers on the one 
hand, and manufacturers on the other. The whole economic 
structure rests ultimately upon him. He deserves more con- 
sideration and respect than he sometimes receives. 

It should be pointed out that the rewards of the farmer are 
not to be reckoned wholly in financial terms. Under favorable 
conditions, he is the most independent of men. He leads a 
healthy outdoor life, is his own employer, and can plan his 
work as he pleases. He is likely to be better read and more 
intelligent than the industrial worker. The social life of a 
country community is ordinarily wholesome, kindly and sym- 
pathetic, with high standards of moral integrity. Unlike the 
city, men are appraised by what they produce rather than by 
their expenditures. As compared with the city man with the 
same income, the farmer's children grow up under more favor- 
able conditions, morally and physically, and are more likely 
to become successful men and women. Many of the eminent 
in every generation are born on farms. On the other hand, city 
populations never reproduce themselves in the long run, either 
in numbers or in ability. With the telephone, the radio, good 
roads, and motor cars, the farmer's life is no longer isolated. 
He can go and enjoy the amusements of the town when he 
chooses, and return to the peace and quiet of his home. It is 
his duty to be just to his employes. While farm labor cannot be 
standardized in hours and wages, it should not be unjustly 
exploited. 

We have seen that our present economic order in part, but 
by no moans whollj^, meets the requirements of the canon of 
distributive justice. We have still to consider whether the 



DISTRIBUTIVE JUSTICE 411 

canon may be more fully met by improvements in our present 
system that will keep it within the bounds of the relation of 
Citizenship and the capitalistic system, or whether the substi- 
tution of some form of collectivism would be preferable. 

V. Capitalism or Collectivism? 

Our present social structure, regarded from the economic 
standpoint, has been denominated Capitalism. Capital, mostly 
the fruit of previous labor, thrift, and industry, and held by 
individuals as private property, is an essential factor in produc- 
tion, and the holders of capital justly receive private incomes from 
it in the form of interest, profits, and rent. In opposition to Cap- 
italism, the advocates of Collectivism believe that all, or most, 
capital employed in production should he owned and managed hy 
the people collectively, and not held as private property. The 
income now received by property holders as profit, interest, and 
rent should all go to the people collectively. 

On ethical grounds collectivists are united in the opinion 
that the present capitalistic system is bad, since the primary 
motive for production is self-interest and gain, — profit for the 
individual and a living for his family. For this they would sub- 
stitute the motive of public service; all should work, not for 
private profit but for the general good. The social system should 
be so arranged that each according to his ability would contrib- 
ute to the general welfare, economically as well as otherwise, 
and each would receive in accordance with his needs. Another 
criticism of Capitalism is, that the propertyless worker is obliged 
to accept employment where he can find it, and to do his work 
under the conditions laid down by his employer. This is "wage 
slavery". No one should have economic power over another. 
All productive property should belong to the people collectively; 
the individual should work for the collective group, not for the 
holders of private property. 

Collectivists criticize the wastes of competition and ad- 
vertising that are inevitable under Capitalism. Some claim that 
capital is being concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, and that 



412 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

workers are growing poorer and poorer. Many no longer make 
such sweeping assertions, and content themselves with pointing 
out the fact that most capital is at present owned by a small 
percentage of the population. All argue that a more nearly 
equal division of income would further human happiness and 
welfare. Collectivists are chiefly concerned with the condition 
of industrial laborers, who under past conditions were seldom 
property holders. It is from their point of view that collectivist 
attacks on Capitalism are usually made. The advocates of 
Collectivism profess to believe that farmers would be benefited 
by the collective ownership of land; but farmers usually own 
or aspire to the private ownership of the land which they work, 
and are emphatically individualistic. Collectivistic propaganda 
makes little headway among them. 

Many not otherwise in sympathy with collectivists concede 
that they perform a service in calling general attention to serious 
evils and injustices. On the constructive side, collectivists are 
by no means in agreement with one another, either regarding 
the details of the new economic order which they desire, or the 
means by which transition to it can be effected. Thej' wage 
countless controversies with one another; new divisions keep 
appearing among them; they often attack one another's pro- 
grams with almost as much bitterness as the}' do Capitalism 
itself. However, four general types of Collectivism may be 
distinguished, and the statements following are believed to be as 
accurate as any that could be made in a short account, allowing 
for the great diversity of opinion among the proponents of each 
type. These four types are (1) Communism, (2) State Socialism, 
(3) Guild Socialism, and (4) Consumer's Cooperative DemocracJ^ 

1. Communism 

The word Communism suggests an order in which all goods 
would be held in common ; the social tie that binds each member 
of the group to the rest would be so close that each would 
joyfully contribute all that he had to the common good of all. 
A normal family is such a commune. Monastic orders are 



DISTRIBUTIVE JUSTICE 413 

communistic. Settlements like the Oneida Community orig- 
inated on a communistic basis. Historically, Communism in 
this sense has proved successful only in groups in which a strong 
tie of personal affection has bound members so closely that the 
good of each was of vital concern to the others, as in the family; 
or in groups in which devotion to a common cause like religion, 
has been so zealous that men were willing to sacrifice their 
individual interests. Communistic organizations other than the 
family have usually been celibate, or have practiced free love, 
or in some other way have avoided family ties. Family loyalties 
would have been divisive, and would have broken down the 
complete identification of private interest with the common 
good that a commune must insist upon. 

Communists to-day, however, are not thinking of establish- 
ing religious orders or small self-sufficing economic communities. 
They aspire to seize the governments of present free states, 
overthrow the capitalistic system, establish the dictatorship of 
the proletariat (the working classes) under the control of the 
Communist Party, confiscate all private property, and abolish 
all class distinctions by compelling every one to work for the 
newly organized state. Thus universal equality, they think, 
will be established. 

Ultimately, perhaps, some Communists say, every one will 
receive the same compensation for an hour's labor as every one 
else, no matter what the work has consisted of, nor how well it 
has been done. Why should one man, because he has greater 
natural talents, or more education, or because he is naturally 
industrious and likes to work, receive more pay than another 
man who is not so bright, has less education, and has inherited 
or acquired a disposition toward idleness? The necessities of 
both men are probably equal; the man who has the greater 
natural handicaps should not be discriminated against. This, 
however, is a detail that can only be decided after the Com- 
munist Party has been in power for a long time, and the minds 
and mores of the people have become thoroughly indoctrinated 
with Communism. 



414 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

Communists are likely to be skeptical of evolution. It would 
take too long a time to convert an actual majority of the 
population to Communism, under the handicaps of the present 
capitalistic regime. Revolution will prove a swifter and surer 
method of inaugurating Communism. The Communist Party 
in every country must be well organized and thoroughly dis- 
ciplined. No one is admitted to membership in the party who 
will not consistently adhere to its principles and obey orders. 
The party must spread communistic propaganda as widely as 
possible, especially in labor unions and in the army and navy; 
it may prove expedient for Communists to become members of 
these organizations in order to be able to spread their agitation 
by "boring from within". With laborers discontented, and the 
army and navy disaffected and unwilling to obey orders to 
suppress the Communists, the leaders of the well organized and 
disciplined Communist Party will be able to seize the govern- 
ment and industries of the country. Once in control, as much 
private property as is feasable will be confiscated, and the 
"dictatorship of the proletariat" will be established. Social 
classes will be abolished, for everybody will be a worker. Ulti- 
mately all private property and economic enterprise will be 
taken over by the state, although for a while concessions may 
have to be made to skilled workers, small traders, and farmers. 

With the communistic party^ in power, the free — or as the 
Communists call it, the "bourgeois" — state, with its so-called 
civil and political rights, will be at an end. Communists will 
control education, speech, publication, and all associations 
including the churches. The coming generation will be thor- 
oughly indoctrinated with the principles of Communism, and 
their minds will not be permitted to be confused as they grow 
up, by being allowed to hear or read presentations of the er- 
roneous points of view of the defenders of Capitalism. When, 
after several generations, every one shall have become a Com- 
munist, as a matter of conviction, discipline may become more 
relaxed, and government more democratic. That can be decided 
in the future. The Communist Party of Russia and the Third 



DISTRIBUTIVE JUSTICE 415 

International are the most famous proponents of Communism 
in the world to-day. 

Communism appeals most strongly in countries where wages 
are low and sharp lines differentiate workers from the rest of 
the population, so that they become class conscious, and believe 
that they have no interests in common with their employers, and 
that by the overthrow of the present economic order they could 
"lose nothing but their chains", which bind them to "wage 
slavery". Communism is not likely to spread in a country 
where workingmen receive high wages and continuous employ- 
ment, are able to save and to invest in stocks and bonds, and 
are given some voice in management. Under the conditions 
just mentioned workers realize that they have a stake to lose 
in the overthrow of the present system, and they aje ready to 
defend it.^^ 

2. Socialism 

There are many different kinds of Socialists. Some look for- 
ward to the same ultimate goal as Communists, but are ready to 
work for more immediate objectives by constitutional means, 
through books, pamphlets, and speeches in attack upon Capital- 
ism and in favor of Socialism; by securing legislation pointing 
in a socialistic direction; by agitation within the labor unions; ^^ 
by organizing political parties and winning elections. Since in 
any free country the people have the power by legislation and 
constitutional amendment to inaugurate any kind of political, 
social, and economic order that they desire. Socialists hope to 
persuade them to take steps in the direction of a socialistic 
commonwealth. Socialists are likely to begin by agitating for 
immediate government ownership and operation of railways, 
mines, and large electric power plants, — measures which 
naturally may gain the support of persons who do not regard 
themselves as Socialists. Next in the socialistic program would 
come government control of large industries, especially of those 
that tend to become monopolistic. Instead of endeavoring, 
like individualists who believe in Capitalism, to break down 



416 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

monopolies and to restore competition, Socialists would have 
the state take them over and run them. 

Socialists believe that municipalities should own and operate 
all their public utilities, — water, gas, electricity, street railways, 
and the like. When all this has been achieved, commerce and 
agriculture should pass into the hands of the government. 
Present private owners might be pensioned during their life- 
time, and their widows and minor children provided for. Ul- 
timately, however, all or most private property used in produc- 
tion would be confiscated. To this end, heavy income and 
inheritance taxes should be inaugurated immediately, so that 
the wealthy, forewarned, will cause their children to be educated 
to earn their own living by economic effort. 

The character of the socialistic state would become utterly 
different from the political state as we now know it; the latter 
would "wither and pass away", and a social organization would 
take its place in which all men would love one another as 
brothers, and work no more for profits but for service in the 
common good. If this last sentence is rather vague, it is only 
because the author has been unable to make a more specific state- 
ment to which he supposes that most Socialists would assent. 

Many Socialists would leave the present family and the 
marriage system undisturbed. Others would have all women 
work except during pregnancy and lactation, and have children 
brought up in institutions under the charge of trained nurses 
and educational experts. Some would permit families to live 
together; others would have all live in barracks and eat at 
common tables. Some would permit families to own their 
clothes, household furniture, books, and inexpensive w^orks of 
art. The great works of art, of course, would be owned by the 
public, and their enjoyment made accessible to all. 

Some Socialists would even allow individuals to accumulate 
and invest property in speculative undertakings and small 
business enterprises in which it would either not be safe or else 
not worth while for the state to enter; individual freedom of 
initiative to that extent might make for progress. 



DISTRIBUTIVE JUSTICE 417 

In some socialistic schemes incomes of workers would be 
graded according to the worth of their services, in order to 
stimulate them to their best efforts. However, there would be 
no opportunity for hoarding or lending at interest, or inher- 
itances. Many Socialists, on the contrary, think prizes, medals, 
and similar tokens of honor would be sufficient incentives to 
develop executives and inventors, in a social order in which no 
other forms of distinction were allowed. 

There are Socialists who, like most Communists, regard 
religion with disfavor; it is an opiate that makes people content 
with bad conditions, because they hope for compensation in 
another life. Other Socialists are friendly toward religion. 
There are even Christian Socialists who claim that Jesus was 
one of their number, and who think that the early church in 
Jerusalem was a commune, and that the socialistic order will 
be an earthly realization of the kingdom of heaven, in which 
the precepts of the Sermon on the Mount will be practiced. ^^ 

Two criticisms of the general types of Collectivism thus far 
described will occur to the reader. Both Communism and State 
Socialism seem to contemplate a very highly organized official- 
dom, which would control all, or most, economic activities. 
States now are notoriously inefficient in their economic under- 
takings. Governments are distinguished for love of red tape. 
Officials are advanced largely by reason of seniority. They feel 
little incentive to avoid waste and produce cheaply, in sharp 
contrast to officers of corporations who must keep down expenses 
and earn dividends. Men more frequently get into elective or 
appointive offices because they are good fellows whom every- 
body likes, than because they are economically efficient. There 
is much race and religious discrimination in politics. On the 
other hand, in business, men are more likely to advance because 
they are economically efficient; stockholders and directors of 
corporations are more interested in that qualification than in 
considerations of political popularity, race, and religion. The 
consumer has influence upon production in the capitalistic sys- 
tem; manufacturers and merchants compete in offering him 



418 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

articles that he will buy; his dollars are more effective in making 
capitalistic production efficient than is his ballot in making 
governmental undertakings economical. For such reasons as 
these, it may appear doubtful whether either Communism or 
State Socialism would be economically efficient. In view of the 
fact that at present there is not nearly enough wealth in exist- 
ence, to enable every one to enjoy the full benefits that ought 
to be afforded to all for the self-realization of Eudsemonism or 
the attainment of happiness which Utilitarianism seeks, it 
would not seem desirable to try a different economic order in 
which even less wealth would be produced. 

The second criticism is, that both the socialistic and com- 
munistic orders would be arbitrary and paternalistic. No one 
would be free to come and go as he pleased, or to order his life 
according to his own wishes. His work and his play would be 
largely prescribed. Some men like army life and its discipline. 
They do not mind living under orders. They welcome freedom 
from responsibility, and the assurance of at least a plain living. 
Most men, however, though willing to submit to army discipline 
in a war for the common defense, are very glad when peace 
comes, and they can throw off their uniforms and no longer 
have to salute their officers. They had rather shift and fend 
for themselves; they believe that their chances for success are 
greater than their risks. Socialism has sometimes been called 
a philosophy of failure; it has been said that principal^ the 
timid and incompetent, who fear that they cannot succeed by 
their own efforts, desire to be taken care of under the regimenta- 
tion of a socialistic state. 

The advocates of the two forms of Collectivism that remain 
to be considered attempt to meet the criticisms mentioned. They 
believe that their schemes would make for economic efficiency, 
and escape bureaucratic incompetence and regimentation, 

3. Guild Socialism 

Guild Socialists propose that the workers in each industry, 
organized as a guild, should manage their own affairs, choosing 



DISTRIBUTIVE JUSTICE 419 

foremen, managers, and general superintendents, fixing hours 
and wages, and prices charged for products. The pohtical state 
would have less rather than more functions than at present, 
and in part these would be different. The state would continue 
to maintain order, punish crime, and provide for the national 
defense. In addition, it would adjudicate disputes between 
the different guilds. All productive property of consequence 
would be managed collectively, by the guilds themselves, who 
would either own it, or would be intrusted with its direction 
by the political state, which would finance the undertakings of 
the guilds. Thus each industry would be immediately under 
the control of those who would work in it, understand its condi- 
tions best, and be concerned to make it economically effective, 
in order that their own incomes might be as high as possible. 
The dangers of bureaucratic red tape, wastefulness, and regimen- 
tation would be escaped. All workers would have a voice in the 
conduct of their own industries, would take pride in them, and 
be loyal to them. At first, higher pay might have to be accorded 
in each industry to skilled workers, but ultimately there would 
be complete equality in this respect. The golden age of medieval 
craftsmanship would be restored by the guilds. 

Guild Socialists are peaceable folk, and anticipate the tran- 
sition to their system by constitutional means, the state grad- 
ually expropriating the present owners, and turning the in- 
dustries over to the guilds. Syndicalists have a somewhat similar 
social order in view as their goal, but they are in more of 
a hurry to bring it about. They favor violent measures, such 
as a general strike in all industries simultaneously, which 
would terrify present owners, and force them to surrender 
their property to the ownership and management of their em- 
ployes. 

In criticism of Guild Socialism, it might be feared that the 
workers would vote themselves excessively short hours and 
high wages, and elect officers who were popular fellows and good 
politicians rather than skillful managers. This fear seems to 
be confirmed by the results of an experiment in this direction 



420 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

that was made in England shortly after the war, when cer- 
tain building trade unions were given large government con- 
tracts, in which they failed. ^'^ Guild Socialists think that this 
experiment is inconclusive, and that the idea ought to be 
given another trial. The Syndicalists brought about a general 
strike in certain cities in northern Italy shortly after the war, 
with the result that the workers actually gained possession 
of several industrial plants. They soon found themselves un- 
able to operate them to their own advantage, and were glad 
to return them to their former employers and work again un- 
der the capitalistic system. A violent reaction from Syndical- 
ism to Fascism took place in the minds of Italian workingmen 
shortly after, and under Capitalism Italy at the present time 
seems to be making faster strides toward the economic pros- 
perity of the workers than ever before in modern times. ^^ 

4. Consumer's Cooperative Democracy 

In Denmark, England, and many other European countries, 
and to a considerably less extent in the United States, Con- 
sumers' Cooperative Societies have been developing. Danish 
farmers combine in marketing their produce, purchasing their 
supplies, and making loans, thus saving the profits of middle 
men. English cooperative societies, which include in their 
membership one third of the families in the country, carry on 
an extraordinary business, primarily retailing merchandise to 
their members, but also to some extent manufacturing the 
goods which they sell, and even importing on their own steam- 
ships tea, grain, and other products raised on their own plan- 
tations overseas. Earnings beyond the expense of manage- 
ment, interest on the capital invested, and a sinking fund, are 
returned to consumers in proportion to their purchases. The 
cost of living for the members is thus substantiall}' reduced. The 
whole enterprise is carried on for service and not for profits. 

One enthusiastic leader of this movement in America -^ 
believes that cooperative societies will in time take over most 
of the productive processes of the country. The majority of 



DISTRIBUTIVE JUSTICE 421 

people will obtain employment in these societies and purchase 
their goods from them. The outcome will be an organization 
in some respects like Guild Socialism, except for the impor- 
tant difference that the ultimate control will be in the hands of 
consumers instead of producers. The political state will be 
governed by representatives of consumers and producers. 
There will be more decentralization of government and a closer 
approximation to pure democracy than we have at present. 

The plausibility of Cooperative Democracy lies in the fact 
that it is a further expansion of a principle that has actually 
proved to work economically, — something that can hardly be 
claimed for any of the other forms of Collectivism which we have 
considered. But while cooperative societies have been of real 
service, experience seems to indicate that there are limits to 
the possible expansion of the movement. It seems risky for 
them to extend credit to retail purchasers, or to carry other 
than very stable commodities. It is hard for them to secure 
executives with the necessary qualities for business success. 
A few individuals of high capacity will work at the head of coop- 
erative societies at small salaries, out of devotion to the cause. 
But most men of outstanding ability prefer to work for profit 
for themselves and their families. Like other forms of Col- 
lectivism, Cooperation does not offer sufficient incentives to 
evoke the highest degree of economic efficiency. It seems im- 
probable that the expansion of Cooperation will ever proceed 
so far that it will revolutionize the economic and political 
structure of any free state. 

5. Conclusion 

It has been seen that Capitalism in its present form meets 
the requirements of the canon of distributive justice partially 
but not perfectly. On the other hand, all the types of Col- 
lectivism appear visionary, and it seems improbable that in 
our time, at least, any of them will supplant Capitalism, — cer- 
tainly not in America, where the advocates of Collectivism are 
few and diminishing in numbers. ^^ 



422 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

However, there is no reason why American municipalities 
and "state" and national governments should not attempt 
ownership and operation of public utilities whenever and where- 
ever private enterprise breaks down in efficiency and it seems 
probable that the change would be an improvement. The chief 
obstacle in the way of such attempts to-day arises from the 
fact that most voters are not property holders, do not pay taxes, 
are not efficient in their personal finances, and do not appre- 
ciate economical public management. There is hope that con- 
ditions may change in these respects. Workingmen are begin- 
ning to save. Labor unions have gone successfully into the 
banking business, and are helping their depositors to invest 
their savings in stocks and bonds. In other words, workers are 
becoming capitalists on a small scale. A veritable economic 
revolution in the distribution of wealth seems to be going on in 
our country to-day. 2"* If this continues, the time will come 
when the majority of voters will be property owners and tax- 
payers. Then citizens who themselves possess the virtue of 
economy will appreciate economy in public undertakings. 
Thus the time may come when more economic processes can 
be undertaken successfully by the state than is now the case. 
But this does not mean that complete Socialism will ever come. 
State ownership and operation of economic enterprises can only 
be successful provided the majority of citizens are themselves 
possessors of the virtue of economy; the latter cannot be true 
unless they are private possessors of income producing prop- 
erty. ^^ 

It may be observed that to-day many persons in our nation 
are really working and living under collectivistic conditions. 
Judges of the United States Supreme Court, officers in the army 
and navy, employes of the civil service on permanent appoint- 
ment, teachers in public schools and state universities, and 
many other persons, now hold permanent positions during 
good behavior and receive pensions on retirement. Their in- 
comes are not large enough to enable them to become consid- 
erable holders of capital. In general, their positions are really 



DISTRIBUTIVE JUSTICE 423 

Socialized (using "Socialized" in the sense of "Socialism", and 
not in the broader sense of the chapters in Part I).^^ 

It may be a question whether other professions might not 
also become Socialized advantageously. A teacher does not re- 
ceive fees from his pupils; ought a physician or a surgeon to 
receive fees from his patients? Ought not members of the 
medical profession to be entirely free from financial interest in 
their relations with their patients, and receive fixed annual sal- 
aries as public servants, or as members of the staffs of endowed 
organizations, like colleges, hospitals, and clinics? And how 
about lawyers? We saw in the previous chapter the great hi- 
equality between rich and poor in our courts. Might not legal 
as well as medical services be maintained at public expense for 
all who need them? Ought not both professions to be placed 
on the same status as higher judges and teachers? Those who 
favor the present arrangement point out that in professions 
not Socialized, patrons enter into close personal relations 
with their advisers, and argue that collectively appointed ofla- 
cials would not have the same personal interest, and so would 
not perform their services so faithfully. Moreover, it is said 
that competition in these professions is necessary in order to 
key up their members to their highest efficiency. The author 
has no decided opinion to offer. It is clear that professional 
services cannot satisfactorily be measured in terms of money. 
A judge, a teacher, or a physician is not deemed successful by 
the evidence he displays of business ability. This is one im- 
portant reason why it is possible for professions to be Socialized. 

The situation is different in the case of business men, farmers, 
and workingmen. Their productiveness is directly economic, 
and is more readily measurable in economic values. It seems 
just that they should remain within the capitalistic system, and 
that their incomes should be proportionate to the economic 
services that they render. And while, as has been seen, our 
economic structure is too complex to make it certain that the 
laws of demand and supply and free competition assure that 
each will always receive rewards in accordance with his serv- 



424 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

ices, it seems questionable whether any form of Collectivism 
would make a better apportionment. Our present economic 
order conforms to the canon of distributive justice at least in 
one respect. It gives business men, farmers, and workers 
strong incentives to be economically efficient, and in the main 
it provides them the opportunity to become so. It therefore 
seems probable that evils in our capitalistic system can better 
be corrected by legislation, supervision by government com- 
missions, and by higher ethical standards within business it- 
self, rather than by the adoption of any system of Collectivism. 
Our next topic is a consideration of the ethical standards of 
business and the professions. 

REFERENCES 

* J. Dewey and J. H. Tufts, Ethics, chaps. XXII-XXV. 

* J. A. Leighton, The Individual and the Social Order, chaps. XXXVII- 

XLIV. 

* J. H. Wigmore, editor, Rational Basis of Legal histitutions, chaps. 

I-XXXVIII. 

* T. N. Carver, Essays in Social Justice. The Present Economic Revolu- 

tion in the United States. 

* H. Baker-Crothers and Ruth Hudnut, Problems of Citizenship, chaps. 

XVII-XXIII. 

* J. H. Tufts, The Ethics of Co-operation. 

* C. Gore, editor, Property, its Rights and Duties. 

* J. A. Ryan, Distributive Justice. 

* Herbert Spencer, Justice. 

* A. J. Eddy, Property. 

* Whiting Williams, The Mainsprings of Men. 

* L. D. Edie, The New Economics, chaps. I-VII, XI-XIII. 

* F. W. Taussig, Principles of Economics. 

* H. R. Seager, Principles of Economics, chaps. XXIX-XXXIV. 
L. T. Hobhouse, Social Justice. 

Henry Sidgwick, Elements of Politics. 

T. V. Smith, The American Philosophy of Equality. 

Other references, some of a more technical character, will be found 
in the Notes to this chapter. 



CHAPTER XVII 
THE PROFESSIONS AND BUSINESS 

I. Vocational Ethics 

Vocational Ethics treats of the rights and duties of the members 
of a business or profession with reference to one another, their 
employes, and the general public. In previous chapters we have 
been concerned with moral principles that apply impartially to 
every one, or at least to every citizen. Now we are interested in 
the added privileges and obligations that an individual assumes 
when he enters upon a particular occupation. 

Some moral obligations bind members of certain vocations 
more strictly than they do people in general. Thus every 
citizen ought to vote and take an intelligent interest in the 
political issues of the times, but the lawyer is expected to be 
more active and better informed. Every citizen should be 
concerned about the general health of the community, insisting 
that streets be kept clean, water and milk pure, and hospitals 
efficient. But in these matters physicians are more competent 
and responsible. Every one ought to practice the virtue of 
economy, avoid needless waste, and do what he can to increase 
the total amount of wealth in existence. Upon business men, 
however, chiefly rests the duty to keep the processes of produc- 
tion as stable as possible, averting panics, business depressions, 
and hard times. Every person should help to render town and 
countryside comfortable and beautiful; so that wherever people 
live and children are born and bred, their surroundings may help 
them to be healthy, happy, and virtuous. But specialists in 
architecture, engineering, the fine arts, sociology, and kindred 
subjects should lead movements in city and country planning. 

Every one should cultivate all the virtues. Only in a well 
rounded life, where each virtue has its full development, can 

425 



426 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

happiness and self-realization be achieved. But certain virtues 
are more indispensable in some vocations than in others. All 
men ought to have courage, but the aviator, soldier, policeman, 
and fireman must excel others in this virtue. Every person 
should be reverent and sympathetic, but the clergyman partic- 
ularly so. All need to be conscientious, but speciahsts must be 
wise in matters in which they profess to be experts. 

The ethics of the members of a vocational group supplement 
and in many ways are stricter than the mores of society in 
general. Professional men are jealous of the dignity of their 
professions. A physician or a lawyer may not publish advertise- 
ments in a newspaper, other than a brief professional card. To 
do more would be unethical, according to the standards of the 
profession; although it could hardly be thought to be immoral, 
measured by the moral judgments of people in general. {Ethical 
and unethical are the adjectives applied by professional and 
business men with reference to the actions that do or do not con- 
form to the ethics of their vocations; moral and immoral being re- 
served for actions judged hy the ordinary moral consciousness.'^ 
This usage is followed throughout this chapter, but not else- 
where in this volume.) A minister,- and in some localities a 
teacher, 3 must not deliberately seek a call elsewhere at a higher 
salary, if he has no real intention of leaving, but merely desires 
to force a raise in salary in his present position. A banker must 
be extremely careful in recommending investments; in some 
cases he should not advise customers to incur risks that he 
would not hesitate to take himself with his own private capital. 
Men in every occupation, including business, must be guarded 
in their criticisms of their colleagues, when conversing with 
persons outside of the vocation; although they must protect its 
good name by taking such action as is possible against real 
offenders. The opposite conduct in the illustrations mentioned 
would not in all instances be immoral, but would be considered 
unethical. 

On the other hand, vocational ethics is liable to be more lax 
in some respects than ordinary morahty, although this is less 



THE PROFESSIONS AND BUSINESS 427 

true to-day than it was even a few decades ago. Immoral habits 
in drink and sex, if not notorious, may not seriously affect a 
man's standing in business and in many professions. They 
might not prevent professional or business relations with one 
whom a decent citizen would not care to receive socially in his 
home. The moral laxness of vocational ethics, when it exists, is 
partly due to the almost inevitable slant which the character 
of the vocation gives to its participants. Civil lawyers are 
prone to have a magnified notion of the importance of property 
rights and to fail to appreciate other human rights. A criminal 
lawyer is liable to develop too much sympathy for his unfortu- 
nate clients, to condone the wrongs that they have done, and 
under estimate their menace to society; although legal ethics is 
becoming stricter in this respect, and now forbids a criminal 
lawyer to seek the acquittal of a client whom he positively knows 
to be guilty.* A college teacher is prone to over emphasize the 
importance of intellectual interests and to undervalue the other 
interests of his students; this he does perhaps in self defense 
because alumni and even parents frequently exert their influence 
unduly in the opposite direction. Civil servants are inclined 
to make a fetich of seniority and red tape. Soldiers tend to 
make morality mere esprit de corps. Business men in the past 
were often too lenient upon exaggerations in advertisements and 
salesmanship; of late years they have been making sweeping 
reforms. Ministers have been over lenient in condemnation of 
plagiarized sermons. They have been so ready to write recom- 
mendations for every one that such a letter from a minister 
often has less weight than it deserves. 

Vocational ethics seems justified in refusing to pass judg- 
ments on offenses that have nothing to do with efficiency and 
reliability in the vocation itself; these are matters for the pub- 
lic moral consciousness to condemn, and not the members of 
the vocation as such. On the other hand, in all conduct that 
concerns the professional or business trustworthiness and ef- 
ficiency of any of its members, the vocation should be uncom- 
promisingly severe in its judgments. The public has the 



428 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

right to expect the bar, the medical profession, and the min- 
istry to protect it from shysters, quacks, and Elmer Gantrys. 
The stock exchange must exclude dishonest brokers and the 
floaters of fraudulent securities. Business men need to raise the 
general tone of advertisements. Unless the members of a vo- 
cation protect the public from the black sheep in their ranks, 
the whole vocation becomes discredited in the public mind, 
and cannot with full effectiveness render the services which 
society has a right to expect from it. Society in such cases is 
led to attempt through legislative and administrative action to 
force higher standards of conduct in matters that could more 
wisely and effectively be regulated by the members of the vo- 
cation itself. 

II. Professional Ethics 

The general line of demarkation between professions and 
business is fairly clear, although there are vocations that over- 
lap. Clergymen, teachers, army officers, and civil servants are 
undoubtedly members of professions. Bankers, manufactur- 
ers, and merchants are business men. The work of the lawyer 
is mainly professional, although he sometimes acts as a busi- 
ness agent. Engineers and architects should be classified among 
the professions; realtors are business men. 

The features that distinguish a profession from a business 
are chiefly these. A lengthy and specialized education is a 
prerequisite for membership in a profession. The work itself 
calls for highly technical training and skill. Such a group is, 
therefore, comparatively restricted in numbers, marked off 
from the rest of society by their work, and often — truly though 
subtly — by their habits of life, tastes, and personal demeanor. 
It does not take a Sherlock Holmes to distinguish a profes- 
sional man, as he passes by on the street, and to decide to what 
profession he belongs. The relation between a professional man 
and those whom he serves is likely to be more personal than 
that between a member of a business firm and its patrons. Phy- 
sicians and lawyers, for example, practice as individuals or in 



THE PROFESSIONS AND BUSINESS 429 

small firms; a patient or client when he calls, asks to see a par- 
ticular person who gives special attention to his case. Profes- 
sional men feel a certain pride in their vocations, and are capable 
of much group loyalty. They can readily organize themselves 
into associations with strong solidarity. Success is measured 
by technical erudition, and skill in applying it to specific prob- 
lems. 

The rewards of professional success consist very largely in 
the interest of the work itself, in the opportunity to devote one- 
self to its study and practice. The members of any profession 
have a certain prestige, — they enjoy cultivated association 
with persons of like minds and interests. The service that a pro- 
fession renders is not easily measured by money; its contribu- 
tion to the common weal is genuine and important, but it is 
not economically productive in the narrowest sense. No in- 
telligent person would think that the success of such a man 
could be estimated by the amount of property that he accu- 
mulates. In a rough way, it can be said that the motive of serv- 
ice is more marked than in a business, and that considerations 
of private profit are more incidental; although, of course, the 
professional man must make a living adequate to maintain 
himself and his family on a scale that will enable him to be pro- 
ficient, as well as to lead the manner of life that custom ex- 
pects of him. 

Certain professions, as we saw in the preceding chapter, are 
now Socialized. The member of a vocation of this type receives 
a salary, and often on retirement a pension. He should be able 
to devote his entire attention to his work, free from financial 
worry. His relation with those whom he serves is financially 
disinterested. In professions where a fee is received from pa- 
trons, professional men practice separately or in small partner- 
ships; patrons engage their services as individuals rather than 
as a firm. The professional man should not make the amount 
of his fee the primary consideration in determining the amount 
of attention that he shall give to the case of any particular pa- 
tron. He ought to be willing to serve with equal fidelity those 



430 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

who can pay little, or nothing at all. A lawyer or a physician 
often takes special interest in a case that calls for high profes- 
sional skill in the solution of new legal or medical points, with 
little regard to financial remuneration. 

Most of the professions have lengthy codes, drawn up by 
their respective associations, to which the interested reader can 
be referred.^ A code sets forth the principles to which the mem- 
bers of the profession are expected to adhere, and it enumerates 
specific forms of misconduct that are forbidden. Offenses 
deemed most reprehensible, or those which the members of 
their own initiative cannot prevent, a professional association 
will seek to have prohibited by law, with penalties attached. 
Such an association is likely to feel that there is a wide domain 
in which it can best by its own efforts prevent misconduct, or at 
least keep it at a minimum. In the professions, as elsewhere, 
the principle of moral education applies. Most men will re- 
spect the ethical standards of their social groups, if these are 
formulated and made known to them. They want to do what is 
ethical, as judged by their colleagues. Would be offenders are 
deterred by fear of certain condemnation and possible ostracism 
by their fellows. A professional association is a better judge of 
professional propriety than are legislatures and courts. All the 
latter can do is to prohibit and punish offenses immoral enough 
to be classified as crimes and misdemeanors. The association 
can maintain higher standards of conduct among its members. 

It will be impossible to outline the codes of all of the pro- 
fessions. A brief summary of some points in two of them will 
perhaps give an idea of their general character. 

A physician is a member of a profession that ''has for its 
prime object the service it can render humanity; reward or 
financial gain is a subordinate consideration". He should never 
reveal the confidences of a patient, nor flaws of character ob- 
served in him except when imperativelj^ required by the laws 
of the state, or to take definite action to prevent the infection 
of a healthy individual. A physician is free to choose whom he 
will serve; but he must always respond to requests for assistance 



THE PROFESSIONS AND BUSINESS 431 

in an emergency. Having once undertaken a case, he should 
not neglect a patient because incurable, nor withdraw from the 
case without giving timely notice. He must not solicit patients 
by circulars, advertisements, personal communications, or 
interviews. He must not sell surgical instruments or medicines 
to his patients, nor receive rebates from those who sell them. 
Physicians should treat members of the families of other 
physicians when requested. They should assist in consulta- 
tions. A physician should ordinarily avoid making social calls 
on the patients of other physicians; he should never take charge 
of a patient under the care of another physician until the latter 
has relinquished the case or been dismissed. A physician suc- 
ceeding another in a case should not make criticisms of his 
predecessor. Physicians should treat the poor gratuitously. 
They should not secretly divide fees. They should not dispose 
of their services under contract in a way that would prevent 
adequate service to patients. They should cooperate for the 
prevention of epidemics. In general, the physician should be- 
have toward patients, the public, and his fellow practitioners as 
he desires them to deal with him. He should always uphold the 
honor of his profession, and endeavor to serve the pubHc.^ 

The lawyer should maintain a respectful attitude toward the 
courts; he should endeavor to prevent political considerations 
from outweighing judicial fitness in the selection of judges. A 
lawyer should avoid marked attention and unusual hospitaHty 
toward a judge; he should not communicate or argue privately 
with a judge as to the merits of an impending cause. A lawyer 
should be willing to serve as counsel for indigent prisoners. " It 
is the right of the lawyer to undertake the defence of a person 
accused of crime, regardless of his personal opinion as to the 
guilt of the accused; otherwise innocent persons, victims only 
of suspicious circumstances, might be denied proper defence." 
*'The primary duty of a lawyer engaged in pubHc prosecution", 
on the other hand, "is not to convict, but to see that justice is 
done." A prosecuting lawyer should not suppress facts nor 
secrete witnesses. A lawyer must not represent conflicting 



432 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

interests, except by the express consent of all concerned; he must 
not subsequently accept retainers or employment from others 
in matters adversely affecting any interest of his client. A 
lawyer should give a client a candid opinion of the merits and 
probable result of pending or contemplated litigation. When- 
ever a controversy will admit of fair adjustment, the chent 
should be advised to avoid or end litigation. A lawyer should 
not directly negotiate with the clients of a lawyer on the oppos- 
ing side. Money or other trust property belonging to a client 
should not be used by the lawyer. 

A lawyer should fix his fees in accordance with the time and 
labor involved, the probable loss of other practice through taking 
the case, customary charges for such services, the amount in- 
volved in the controversy and the benefit received by the cHent, 
the certainty of compensation, and whether the employment is 
casual or for an established and constant chent. "A client's 
ability to pay cannot justify a charge in excess of the value of 
the service, though his poverty may require a less charge, or 
even none at all." "In fixing fees it should never be forgotten 
that the profession is a branch of the administration of justice, 
and not a mere money-getting trade." 

In supporting a cause, the lawyer should defend his client's 
rights to the utmost of his learning and ability, regardless of how 
it will affect his own popularity; all this must be within the 
bounds of the law, and he must not assist a client to violate the 
law or engage in any manner of fraud. "He must obe}' his own 
conscience and not that of his client." He should do his best to 
restrain clients from improprieties, avoid personalities with op- 
posing counsel, treat witnesses with fairness and consideration, 
be cautious about discussing his causes in the newspapers, be 
candid and fair in his quotation of documents and testimony. 
He should not try to curry favor with juries, nor privately com- 
municate with them. He should avoid all kinds of direct and 
indirect advertising, except ordinary simple business cards. 
He should not stir up litigation. He should uphold the honor 
of the profession, aiding the Bar against the admission of incom- 



THE PROFESSIONS AND BUSINESS 433 

petent or morally unfit candidates, and he should expose before 
the proper tribunals corrupt or dishonest conduct in the pro- 
fession. He should decline unjustifiable litigation. "Above 
all a lawyer will find his highest honor in a deserved reputation 
for fidelity to private trust and to public duty as an honest man 
and as a patriotic and loyal citizen." ^ 

The value of professional codes like those summarized is to 
make clear to all practitioners what they may and what they 
must not do. Codes should not abound in moral generalities 
like the Golden Rule; professional ethics must be more specific. 
The service of a code is to afford definite guidance in the de- 
tailed problems of the practice of the vocation. A code may 
properly urge the profession to respect and obey the law; it 
should not mention particular laws in such a manner that the 
inference might be drawn that others need not be regarded so 
scrupulously. No code can pretend to be exhaustive; like the 
two cited, every code should explicitly state that it does not 
include all the duties and obligations of the profession. Codes 
should be revised from time to time as conditions change. 

III. Business Ethics 

A business, as distinct from a profession, is economic in the 
narrower sense. It is engaged in the production or sale of com- 
modities rather than of services. It involves to a greater extent 
the investment of capital. Its success is more adequately meas- 
ured by its profits; the most successful business man is he who 
has accumulated the largest amount of property, with the stipu- 
lation that he has done so in ways that are both moral and 
ethical. The stipulation is becoming increasingly recognized, 
and business associations. Rotary Clubs, and similar organiza- 
tions are formulating codes containing ethical standards for 
the conduct of business, and they are endeavoring to enforce 
them. To that extent business is becoming professionalized. 
But business remains distinct from the professions in that com- 
paratively little technical education is ordinarily required, and 
the chief incentive to activity is the desire to ^rn profits. The 



434 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

moral and ethical stipulation signifies that to deserve profits 
some real economic service must be rendered to the community. 
The most serious violations of business morality can be pre- 
vented by legislation, and by the regulation of federal and 
"state" trade and public service commissions. Ethical viola- 
tions that have not been brought within the scope of govern- 
mental activity are prevented by the influence of the public 
opinion of business men and the efforts of business men's associ- 
ations. 

A good simple code of business ethics has been formulated 
by Mr. Edward A. Filene: "1. A business, in order to succeed, 
must be of real service to the community. 2. Real service in 
business consists in making or selling merchandise of reliable 
quality for the lowest practically possible price, provided that 
merchandise is made and sold under just conditions." 

"Real service to the community" means that goods must be 
made that are best adapted for the particular uses for which 
people want them, and sold at just prices. Total profits must 
increase by the reduction of costs to the lowest practicable 
figure, and by large and frequent sales at a small margin of 
profit on each individual transaction. The "lowest practicable 
price" will vary somewhat in different years and localities, and 
will become increasingly lower with the progress of methods of 
manufacture and distribution. Merchandise must be main- 
tained at the level of "reliable quality"; the lowering of prices 
through the substitution of inferior goods would not be real 
progress. "Just conditions" for the manufacture and sale of 
commodities exclude merchandise made or sold under "sweat 
shop" conditions, or by underpaid or overworked people; to 
lower prices through such methods would merely be to rob some 
people in order to benefit others. Good relations should be 
maintained with employes for the purpose that all may coop- 
erate in service to the community. The business man should 
take an interest in promoting the welfare of the community in 
which he lives. He should give his support to efforts at civic 
betterment. With the reduction of prices under the conditions 



THE PROFESSIONS AND BUSINESS 435 

named, the necessities of life will become available to all for 
fewer hours of work, and men will gain more real freedom. It 
is not impossible that in time a man will only need to work five 
hours a day in order to provide a living for his family; he will 
then perhaps choose to continue eight or ten hours at his voca- 
tion in order to put his children through college, or to satisfy 
other desires. The merchant or manufacturer who best suc- 
ceeds in these efforts at lowering prices by conducting business 
on a large scale will properly earn the largest profits because he 
is rendering the largest service to the community.^ 

In the preceding paragraph Mr. Filene's statements have 
been paraphrased for purposes of condensation; but it is be- 
lieved that the import of his code of business ethics has been 
faithfully summarized. This code embraces the essential 
principles of business ethics, and properly marks off the differ- 
ences between the ethics of business and the professions. 

The development of business men's associations is one of the 
most remarkable moral phenomena of the present generation. 
There have been various causes for this development. Among 
them the following may be enumerated. The numerous expo- 
sures of bad business practices in newspapers and popular 
magazines during the first decade of the present century aroused 
the conscience of the business world, as well as of the indignant 
public. The moral idealism and championship of reforms ad- 
vanced by Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Robert M. 
La Follette, and many others, made an impression. There was 
the fear of bureaucratic governmental interference to correct 
abuses if the business world did not set its own house in order. 
The experiences of the War, during which business men often 
entered into whole-hearted and disinterested cooperation with 
one another, gave men a better realization of the possibility of 
competitors working together for the common good. The 
attempts of the churches to bring more Christianity into busi- 
ness helped. A contributing cause may have been the coming 
of prohibition, which led business men to seek the society of 
one another in lunch clubs and other places where conversation 



436 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

moved on a higher moral plane than it had in bar rooms. It 
would be pleasant to believe that the attention given to prob- 
lems of distributive justice in college courses in ethics and the 
social sciences may have made some lasting impression on the 
younger alumni after they had entered the business world. 

The outcome of it all has been that in this country there are 
now something like a thousand national trade associations, be- 
sides multitudinous state and district associations covering 
almost every field of business activity imaginable. Member- 
ship is open to all in good standing who are engaged in the 
business. Each association endeavors to promote the common 
good of its members. Manufacturers give one another informa- 
tion regarding trade conditions, stocks of goods on hand, and 
prices of raw material. This enables each firm to plan its opera- 
tions more intelligently, and avoid over stocking the market. 
Industries suffer less from extreme fluctuations. Improved 
methods of accounting are made known to all. Each associa- 
tion studies new uses for the industry's product, and carries on 
advertising campaigns. It provides expert advice for members 
in their business problems. 

The chief interest to the moral philosopher about these 
associations is the fact that they formulate codes in which the 
practices that are unethical according to the judgment of the 
association are explicitly enumerated and forbidden, and de- 
sirable practices are commended. Some associations are pow- 
erful enough to enforce their codes, because deprivation of 
membership would be a serious disadvantage. In anj- case the 
opinion of the association has considerable moral influence upon 
the conduct of its members.^ 

One of the great problems in business ethics with which the 
various associations are concerned is the definition and observa- 
tion of truthfulness in advertising. An advertisement should 
be accurate in its statements about the nature of the article, 
the materials of which it is composed, the place where it has 
been made, and the benefits to be obtained from its use. Mis- 
representations of an absolutely fraudulent character, now 



THE PROFESSIONS AND BUSINESS 437 

punishable by federal and "state" laws, are becoming rare as 
compared with a generation ago, or with some European coun- 
tries at the present time. Advertisements that are gross exag- 
gerations, or in offensively bad taste, although not necessarily 
criminal or immoral, are at any rate unethical, according to the 
standards of business men's associations. The better news- 
papers and periodicals refuse to publish them, because they 
weaken public confidence in all advertising, and so work injury 
upon those who advertise in good faith. To be sure, there is 
more of the element of suggestion than of strict logic in advertis- 
ing, as the psychologists have long taught us; but business 
experience shows that the truth pays best in the long run, not 
only to periodicals but to advertisers themselves. It is impos- 
sible to fool all the people all the time; on the contrary, pur- 
chasers who find articles satisfactory will buy them again, as 
well as recommend them to others. Advertising is necessary in 
a capitalistic system; it introduces the public to commodities 
offered for sale; it makes larger scale production possible, and 
with it, lower prices. Contrary to popular impression, the cost 
of advertising is not excessive. Of the prices paid by consumers 
even for most of the very widely advertised articles, not more 
than five per cent can properly be charged to advertising. i° 

In business ethics — contrary to professional usage to a cer- 
tain extent — the same price should be charged to every cus- 
tomer. Fixed prices — almost unknown when A. T. Stewart 
introduced the practice in New York in 1825,^^ have become the 
rule nearly everywhere in American retail trade. In all repu- 
table retail stores the most ignorant purchaser can rely upon 
being asked the same price as the most persistent bargainer. 
Prices are commonly marked in plain figures; this is a guaranty 
of good faith on the part of the merchant, and it expedites trade 
by enabling the customer to look over goods and often make 
his selection while he is waiting until a sales person will be free 
to give him attention. Sales people truthfully say whether 
goods are made of cotton, silk, wool, or linen. They can be 
relied upon to measure thirty-six inches to the yard, sixteen 



438 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

ounces to the pound, and twelve units to the dozen. The dis- 
satisfied customer can return goods and receive his money back 
without an argument; unless he has taken an unreasonable 
time to return them, has damaged them in some way, or bought 
them at a sale in which it was advertised that purchased goods 
might not be returned. In all of these respects American re- 
tail business has made great strides in recent years, and is far 
in advance of the smaller shops in Europe. Some of this prog- 
ress must be credited to the growth of "big business". In 
large establishments uniform prices and consistent treatment of 
customers is more necessary than in a small shop in which the 
merchant, with perhaps one or two helpers, makes all sales per- 
sonally. The progress in the ethics of salesmanship, like that 
of advertising, has come about because it pays; in successful 
business undertakings the largest profits go to those who ren- 
der most service. 

Another field in which there has been marked improvement 
in business ethics, although much further progress is needed, 
is in the definition and enforcement of the rules of fair compe- 
tition. Profits, as we have seen, ought to be the reward of serv- 
ice. Competition in rendering services is fair. Efforts to outdo 
a rival and gain larger profits than he by some other method 
than that of rendering greater services are unfair.^- The forms 
which unfair competition may assume are legion. Among 
them are: false and misleading advertising; misbranding ar- 
ticles offered for sale; combinations in restraint of trade; ma- 
hcious disparagement by salesmen of competitors and their 
goods ; attempts to deprive a competitor of his source of supply 
or place of business; price fixing; cutting prices below costs in 
certain localities in order to drive out small competitors and 
build up a monopoly; forcing retailers into keeping all the ar- 
ticles made by one manufacturer and none of a similar character 
made by others; adulteration; bribery of a competitor's em- 
ployes to reveal business secrets; inducement of employes of 
a competitor to come into one's own employ by underhanded 
methods, for the purpose of getting his secrets and capturing 



THE PROFESSIONS AND BUSINESS 439 

his customers; and sending spies into a competitor's place of 
business. 

Certain of the practices of unfair competition are punishable 
by law, and some progress has been made in prosecution of them. 
Others are subject to the control of federal and ''state" trade 
commissions. All are denounced by chambers of commerce, 
Rotary clubs, and trade associations. Persistence in them 
brings an offender the ill will of his business associates and loss 
of their cooperation. This at least is unpleasant; in the long 
run it may prove a more serious loss than can be compensated 
for by the immediate profits gained by unfair practices. 

The relations between business men and their employes have 
been steadily improving in recent years. The consciences of 
most business men are now awake, and they desire to be on 
terms of good will and cooperation with their helpers so that 
greater gain may result for both, with lower prices to the pub- 
lic. Business men are greatly improving conditions in stores 
and factories from the standpoints of sanitation, comfort, and 
convenience. Welfare work is carried on. Personnel workers 
endeavor to find for each employe the task for which he is best 
suited. Employers are learning to recognize labor unions, meet- 
ing them half way, and seeking to negotiate fair terms with 
them. Many unions are losing their belligerent attitude, and 
learning to respond in a cordial way. Shop committees and 
arbitration boards are supplanting strikes as means of settling 
disputes. In various ways workers are given a voice in the de- 
tails of management that directly affect them, and regarding 
which they have knowledge. Employes are becoming stock- 
holders in the corporations for which they work. This broad- 
ens their moral outlook, as they come to regard the business 
from an investor's as well as an employe's standpoint. 

To-day perhaps the most difficult problem is to find some 
means by which in all portions of the country restriction will 
be enforced upon excessively long hours and low pay, dangerous 
working conditions, child labor, and the labor of women in cir- 
cumstances detrimental to their welfare. It is unjust that in 



440 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

portions of the country where conditions hitherto have been 
good, workers should be thrown out of employment or com- 
pelled to accept unfavorable terms in order to make it possible 
for their employers to compete with regions where labor is cru- 
elly exploited. Perhaps in time the whole country will become 
sufficiently morally enlightened for this situation to be remedied, 
as standards of working conditions are raised to a common 
level by "state" and local action. At present progress in this 
direction appears painfully slow. To bring this field within 
the control of the national government by an amendment to 
the federal constitution seems to many contrary to our tradi- 
tion of "states' rights". Yet it must be remembered that it 
was only through such a course that free labor was finally freed 
from unfair competition with slave labor. "States' rights" 
are only morally defensible when their recognition furthers and 
does not obstruct the advance of human welfare. 

A word remains to be said about the duties of consumers. 
In retail stores it has become a common practice to assume 
that "the customer is always right" in all disputes. The gen- 
erosity of merchants in this respect has often been imposed 
upon. Goods not wanted are not returned promptly', or are 
brought back in a damaged condition. Credit pri\ileges are 
abused. Customers are often rude and inconsiderate, not to 
say cruel, in their treatment of sales people. Consumers should 
avoid shopping at crowded times when it is possible for them to 
make purchases at earlier hours and seasons. They should re- 
fuse to buy goods manufactured or sold under unjust condi- 
tions. In many ways they can help the better merchants and 
manufacturers to maintain higher ethical standards in the busi- 
ness world generally. Women's clubs, churches, and other 
organizations are doing much to enlighten the public in these 
matters, and they can do more. 

IV. The Choice of a Vocation 

It was said in Chapter X, section VII, that apart from ex- 
ceptional cases in which self-sacrifice is called for, a person should 



THE PROFESSIONS AND BUSINESS 441 

choose the vocation in which he can best reahze his capacities. 
Naturally this implies that the chosen vocation not only appeals 
to his tastes, but that he actually has talent for it. To be sure, 
tastes and talents are Hkely to go together. People can usually 
do best that which they aspire to achieve. But this is not always 
true; nor does manifestation of a little talent necessarily imply 
great possibilities of development. Not every bright clerk in a 
village could become a great merchant or banker if he were to 
go to New York. Nor does every girl who sings well in the 
choir of a country church merely lack training in order to be a 
prima donna. 

In these days, when vocational counselors give information 
and advice regarding the outlook in the different callings, and 
psychologists are equipped with intelligence tests that throw 
light upon natural mental ability and special aptitudes, students 
have expert assistance available. The psychologists can claim 
fairly high coefficients of correlation favoring the accuracy 
of their tests, and their predictions regarding a young person's 
capacities are probably at least as trustworthy as the forecasts 
of the weather bureau. ^^ The opinions of psychologists and 
vocational counselors should be supplemented by the advice of 
teachers and other older friends who are well acquainted with 
a student personally, and can take into account aspects of his 
character which mental tests are not apt to disclose. 

It is the duty of every one to make his life of service to 
humanity. It does not follow that all who feel this obligation 
strongly should choose those vocations that are reputedly 
altruistic in preference to those popularly deemed selfish. A 
few years ago, a famous scientist asserted that a young man with 
ability for research could probably accomplish more that would 
be of wide benefit to humanity during the next generation by 
devoting himself to pure and applied physics than to any of the 
so-called "social sciences". He would be more likely to, make 
discoveries himself, or help to apply the discoveries of others, 
in ways that would cheapen production and hence raise the 
standard of living for every one. In short, that the physicists 



442 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

are likely to accomplish more for the prevention of poverty than 
the sociologists and social workers. Shortly after the War, when, 
as a result of increased wages many people were for the first 
time learning to save and to invest, and it was of importance 
that they receive trustworthy advice, a great economist ex- 
pressed the opinion that a young man could hope to do most 
good in the world by entering the field of investment banking. 
A student came into the author's office recently, full of zeal to 
help his fellow men. He said that he was thinking of going into 
the ministry, although he felt more attracted, so far as personal 
incUnation went, to the career of an industrial chemist. It 
turned out that he did not feel drawn toward pastoral work, nor 
toward trying to preach spiritual messages that would bring men 
closer to God. To him, being a minister chiefly meant an op- 
portunity to preach sermons on the "social gospel", which, he 
thought, might help to bring employers and employes closer 
together. He was told that as an officer in a manufacturing 
corporation he probably could do more to bring workingmen 
and managers together than he could by preaching sermons in a 
church; and that in his case the first step might well be to study 
industrial chemistry. Society not only needs social scientists, 
social workers, and ministers, but also physicists, chemists, 
and business men. One can be of great service to humanity in 
any of these callings. 

To succeed in any vocation a man must enter into social re- 
lationships and be of help to others. A physician can only suc- 
ceed as he heals his patients, a lawyer as he handles the busi- 
ness of his clients to their advantage, a merchant as he fills the 
demands of his customers. So in the long run and as a rule, the 
man who in his vocation renders most service to others should 
and usually does receive the highest rew^ards, honorific and 
pecuniary, that the vocation has to offer. There are exceptions, 
and it is the great problem of social control to eHminate them; 
but the statement holds true as a broad generalization. The 
conclusion is, then, that it is usually good ad\'ice to urge a young 
person to choose the vocation he most desires to enter, and in 



THE PROFESSIONS AND BUSINESS 443 

which he beheves that he would most fully realize himself and 
hence be happiest. This is subject to four reservations: (1) 
the vocation must be an honest one, that renders genuine service 
to the community; (2) the individual must show some talent for 
it; (3) the vocation must not be overcrowded, there must be real 
openings in it for men with his measure of ability; (4) he must 
not shirk responsibilities; e.g., a man with a family and without 
independent means ought not under ordinary circumstances to 
begin preparation for a learned profession. 

A final observation needs to be made. A person in choosing 
a vocation in which he can realize the best that is within him, 
should avoid a calHng in which his own weaknesses will subject 
him to undue temptation, or in which his virtues will not have 
a chance for expression. A man who finds it hard to be honest 
should not seek positions of trust. A man with a weakness for 
drink should not enter a vocation in which temptations of that 
kind will frequently be thrust in his way. An unusually gener- 
ous and sympathetic person should not seek employment in a 
collection agency nor upon a detective force. An unsociable 
person should not seek an occupation that requires a great deal 
of good fellowship. Every one excels in some virtues more than 
in others. There are plenty of callings suitable for the prudent 
and for the daring ; for the generous and for the thrifty ; for those 
who love quiet study and research, and for those who like execu- 
tive work; for realists who see things as they are and are always 
prepared for the worst, and for idealists whose ardent "will to 
believe" helps them to turn visions into realities. 

REFERENCES 

* Edgar L. Heermance, The Ethics of Business. Codes of Ethics. 

* Carl F. Taeusch, Professional and Business Ethics. 

* Clyde L. King, editor, The Ethics of the Professions and Bxisiness. 

(Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 

May, 1922.) 
James Melvin Lee, Business Ethics (especially chaps. V-IX). 
Everett W. Lord, Fundamentals of Business Ethics (especially chaps. 

V,VII-XI,XIV,XV). 



444 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

Richard C. Cabot, Adventures on the Borderlands of Ethics (especially 

chaps. II, III). 
R. M. Binder, Business and the Professions. 
Frank Parsons, Choosing a Vocation. 
E. L. Bernays, editor, Aii Outline of Careers. 

J. McKinney and A. M. Simons, Success Through Vocational Guidance. 
H. L. HoUingworth, Vocational Psychology. 
C. H. Griffiths, Fundamentals of Vocational Psychology. 



CHAPTER XVIII 
THE FAMILY, AND THE POSITION OF WOMEN 

I. Introductory 

The Family is the primary human social institution, — first 
in origin and first in importance. The earliest forms of group 
life are based upon the relation of kinship. Even the primitive 
horde, as we saw in Chapters II and III, has learned what we 
still consider the most important moral judgments, from expe- 
riencing the relations between husband, wife, and children. 
Among civilized nations to-day the family in the form of ethical 
monogamy is the securest of all institutions. In the confusion 
at the close of the Great War, when the three most powerful 
authoritarian empires in Europe fell, and in several countries the 
state, the church, private property, and other long respected 
institutions were jeopardized, and in one partly overthrown, the 
monogamous family remained unattacked. The Russian revolu- 
tionists were indignant at the charge that they were contemplat- 
ing its abolition. 

Monogamy as an ethical institution, we saw on page 58, per- 
mits only the union of single pairs, who publicly vow life long 
fidelity to each other in a manner prescribed by law and custom, 
usually including a religious ceremonial. All other forms of 
marriage are forbidden. The triumph of monogamy has been 
the outcome of a long social evolution, in which other forms of 
sexual relationship were tried and found wanting. It cannot 
be said that monogamy is instinctive in the human race; but 
history has proved that through it human instincts and impulses 
are most adequately satisfied, and men, women, and children 
approach nearest to complete happiness and self-realization.^ 

In the earlier stages of biological evolution, sexual repro- 
duction supplanted reproduction from a single parent through 

445 



446 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

fission, budding, and pathogenesis chiefly because the participa- 
tion of two parents effects more numerous variations in the 
offspring. In consequence, favorable variations more often 
appear and survive. Defects of one parent are escaped by many 
of the progeny, through the inheritance of normal traits from 
the other parent. With the appearance of sexual reproduction, 
therefore, evolution became swifter and surer. The offspring of 
the higher vertebrates, especially birds and mammals, receive 
maternal care from their inception until infancy is passed and 
they can shift for themselves. The longer the period of infancy, 
the more complex can brains and nervous systems become, and 
the higher is the resulting intelligence. Most birds and many 
higher mammals mate when in their natural wild state. The 
father sometimes assists the mother in care for the young; in 
such cases infancy becomes further lengthened, and is attended 
by a corresponding increase in intelligence.- This seems par- 
ticularly true of our nearest animal relatives, the anthropoid 
apes.^ 

Of all possible forms of human sexual relationship, monogamy 
most effectively secures the care of children by both parents 
through the long years before they are educated, ready to sup- 
port themselves, and to establish homes of their own. The more 
thorough the nurture that children can receive from their 
parents, the more capable they can become of high attainments, 
measured by welfare and happiness. In this sense it can be said 
that human monogamous mamage is a, reflective continuation of 
processes already initiated in biological evolution. ^ 

The logically possible forms of sexual relationship are com- 
plete promiscuity and no marriage system at all; group marriage, 
in which several men are married to several women; polyandry, 
in which several men are married to one woman; polygamy, in 
which several women are married to one man; pair marriage, 
in which marriages usually occur between two persons for 
practical reasons, but in which other forms of marriage are not 
forbidden; and monogamy. So far as is known, promiscuity has 
never been a morally approved institution.'' Something ap- 



THE FAMILY, AND THE POSITION OF WOMEN 447 

preaching group marriage has been reported among certain 
native tribes in AustraHa and elsewhere; the practice is infre- 
quent, and it is not Hkely that it was ever general among primi- 
tive men.^ Polyandry is very rare; it is caused by a scarcity of 
women and extreme poverty. Polygamy often occurs among 
chiefs, royal houses, and the wealthy during father right and less 
developed authoritarian civilizations ; but in such instances pair 
marriage is the practice of the bulk of the population. Grad- 
ually, as we ascend the scale of social evolution, the practice of 
polygamy declines in frequency, and at last is forbidden; 
monogamy triumphs in moral teaching and legislation. Polyg- 
amy seems to have disappeared among the ancient Hebrews 
before the book of Proverbs was written, as there is no reference 
to it there. It has longest survived among Chinese and Moham- 
medan peoples ; in these the movement at present is emphatically 
toward monogamy. 

II. Historical 

Our present laws and customs regarding marriage and the 
position of women can hardly be understood without reference 
to their history. They have had three principal sources : ancient 
Roman law, early Teutonic custom, and the teachings of 
medieval and modern occidental Christianity.^ 

During the earlier centuries of the ancient Roman republic, 
the marriage laws were the development of the paternal fam- 
ily system carried to its extreme logical conclusions. A man was 
the absolute ruler and owner of his family, — that is, of his wife, 
minor sons, and unmarried daughters. He could command them 
to do as he pleased, and punish them for disobedience, even 
putting them to death after he had consulted with a coun- 
cil of relations. There were three different forms by which a 
man might become married: one (confarreatio) , sacramental 
and religious, in which he and his bride ate together a sacred 
cake and were thought to be mystically united ; another {coemp- 
tio), which was imitative of the forms of a legal sale or contract; 
and a third (usus) less formal, but which implied a marriage 



448 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

agreement. The legal effect of all three was the same, the bride 
passed out of the power (potestas, tutela, manus) of her father 
into that of her husband. Divorce was possible for the man, 
but rarely occurred. A woman had no property or other civil 
rights. While the laws were not less unfavorable to her, the 
actual position of woman was much higher than in Greece or 
the Orient. Roman women were respected and esteemed by 
their fathers, husbands, and sons; they were their social equals 
and confidants. Marriage was strictly monogamous. 

In the course of the last two centuries of the republic a change 
was effected. A modification of marriage by usv^ was devised, 
so that a woman after marriage could remain within the manus 
of her father. This resulted in her virtual emancipation. Her 
husband had no legal authority over her; and as she lived in her 
husband's home her father could rarely exercise much control, 
and ordinarily did not care to do so. During the Roman em- 
pire, a Roman matron acquired full civil rights. She could 
carry on business and legal transactions, and had control of her 
own property. She had more rights than married women had 
ever known before,^ or were again to possess until the middle of 
the nineteenth century. Divorce could be had at the desire of 
either spouse, and became common. The position of the un- 
married woman remained unchanged; she continued to be sub- 
ject to her father. Whether or not the emancipation of married 
women was responsible, there was greater sexual laxity under 
the empire than the early republic.^ However, it is probable that 
the Roman matron in imperial times remained as a rule the 
loyal and devoted counselor and friend of her husband that she 
had been in the earlier republican times when she was under 
his dominion.^ 

The Teutonic tribes which overran and finallj- subdued the 
Roman empire in the West, retained the customs of father right 
in a manner similar to the early Roman republic. A man was 
the absolute ruler of his wife and children, exercising over them 
the right of life and death, — the latter subject to some extent to 
the council of relations. Without necessarilv consulting his 



THE FAMILY, AND THE POSITION OF WOMEN 449 

daughters, he chose husbands for them, often receiving com- 
pensations from their bridegrooms. Pair marriage was the or- 
dinary practice of Teutonic peoples, but chiefs and wealthy men 
were often polygamous. The Teutonic wife was expected to be, 
and usually was chaste. No corresponding moral requirement 
was expected of her husband. It is chiefly from Teutonic 
sources that the ''double standard", allowing greater freedom to 
the man, has come down to us. On the other hand, the Teutons 
were pure minded, and respected decent women. Their early 
literature, including myths, is decidedly superior in this respect 
to those of Greece and the Orient. 

The medieval Latin church fostered the Teutonic respect for 
women. As a result of the interaction between Teutonic and 
Christian tendencies, there arose the institution of chivalry 
which afforded them special protection and consideration. 
From this developed the romantic literature of the middle ages, 
and our modern ideal of romantic love, which has done much to 
idealize the relations between the sexes, and put them on a higher 
ethical plane. In the adoration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 
the church taught exalted conceptions both of celibacy and of 
motherhood. Laymen learned respect for both nun and married 
woman. Marriage was a sacrament, blessed by God and the 
church, and reverence for it was impressed on the medieval mind. 
Polygamy entirely disappeared. Divorce came to be forbidden 
absolutely; the doctrine was that those whom God had joined 
in holy matrimony, men might not part asunder. However, it 
was often easy for a man of influence to discover or to manufac- 
ture evidence that would persuade an ecclesiastical court to 
declare his marriage null and void. For a marriage was not 
valid unless both parties had originally given their voluntary 
consent, and unless they were not connected within remote 
lines of relationship traceable through either their own parents 
or their god parents. Moreover, a marriage could be annulled 
if a man could convince the court that he had already been se- 
cretly married; for clandestine marriages were considered valid, 
although they were not favored by the church. While, therefore. 



450 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

divorce was forbidden in theory, annulments were common in 
practice. 

With the development of feudalism, the lord claimed the right 
to dispose of the daughters of his vassals in marriage as he chose, 
and to receive payment for them. This practice the church res- 
olutely fought. By the close of the middle ages she had suc- 
ceeded in establishing for all classes of society, including serfs, the 
principle that the voluntary consent of the woman as well as 
of the man was necessary for a legally valid marriage. Their 
mutual consent was also sufficient; parents and liege lords could 
lawfully neither command nor forbid them to marry. 

As a result of the Reformation, marriage from the legal point 
of view in all Protestant and many Catholic countries has be- 
come a contract under the control of the state, and not a sacra- 
ment under the dominion of the church. Divorce is legally per- 
mitted on some grounds in nearly all free countries, although it 
continues to be sternly disapproved by the Roman Catholic 
church. Since the Council of Trent, this church has forbidden 
clandestine marriages, and has eliminated the other abuses that 
had previously made annulments easy. Annulments are now 
rarely granted by the Roman Catholic ecclesiastical courts, and 
only on conclusive evidence. 

Neither Catholic nor Protestant churches opposed the con- 
tinuation and further development in European law of the doc- 
trine originating in Teutonic custom that a wife is under the su- 
preme control of her husband. ^° Until about the middle of the 
nineteenth century, a married woman had few civil rights, 
either in Europe or the United States. She could not hold prop- 
erty in her own name. Whatever she inherited passed into the 
hands of her husband. She could carry on no business transac- 
tions except under his control. A wife could rarely testify in 
court against him. She was sometimes not held responsible for 
crimes committed by her in his presence, on the assumption that 
she did them under his coercion. Down to the middle of the 
seventeenth century a man still had the legal right to beat his 
wife for the sake of discipline, provided ho did hov no jiermauent 



THE FAMILY, AND THE POSITION OF WOMEN 451 

bodily injury.^^ There was no legal way, until well along in the 
nineteenth century, by which a woman with a drunken husband 
could prevent him from appropriating the money that she earned 
with her own labor. The husband had complete authority over 
the children until they came of age. Divorce, in the countries 
where it was permitted, was difficult and expensive, and granted 
on terms more favorable to the husband; children were more 
likely to be committed to him than to their mother. 

In England, at least, the unmarried woman in early modern 
times gained full civil rights as soon as she became of age. 
There, at any rate, the tradition of father right only persisted 
for the married woman, who on marriage passed under the con- 
trol of her husband. 

To the Christian church can be credited the logical deduction 
from the principle of monogamy that strict continence outside 
of the married relation is as obligatory upon men as women. 
This "single standard" of sex morality, hardly known by an- 
cient Jews, Greeks, or Romans, and certainly not by Teutons, 
has been consistently taught by the Christian church ever since 
New Testament times. While it has never won an entire vic- 
tory over the "double standard" of morality, it is recognized by 
all honest men as right in moral theory. Most men observe it 
in practice most of the time, and many men, at least in Anglo- 
Saxon countries, throughout their lives. In having taught the 
single standard, and made considerable progress in bringing it 
into observance, the Christian church has rendered a service of 
inestimable value to women. For this contribution alone, the 
church may be forgiven her failure to do more than she did in 
other respects to assist married women to regain the rights 
which they lost at the fall of the Roman empire, with the re- 
sult that Griselda became the model of womanly behavior for 
the middle ages, the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment. 

The humanitarian movement of the early nineteenth century 
gradually directed part of its efforts toward the betterment of the 
position of women. Other voices were added to those of Mary 
Wollstonecraft, Frances Wright, and John Stuart Mill.^^ Duf. 



452 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

ing the latter half of the last century most free states removed 
the majority of the restrictions upon the freedom of women 
which had come down in law and custom from the traditions of 
Teutonic father right. They have gained most civil rights. 
They can hold property, carry on business, sue and be sued, no 
matter whether married or single. Legally woman now is in 
nearly all respects upon a parity with her husband in the direc- 
tion of the home, and in decisions that concern the welfare of 
the family. There still remain various details in which women 
have not gained full civil rights, chiefly in matters that affect 
comparatively few women and have not come to general at- 
tention; but the battle for sex equality can be said to have been 
won in principle. ^^ As a matter of custom in America and among 
the American born, the wife is the supreme authority in house- 
hold matters; here the immigrant is likely to be more conserv-a- 
tive, clinging to the tradition of father right and thinking of 
himself as "lord in his own house". 

Slowly women gained the right to higher education on equal 
terms with men. By the middle of the nineteenth century many 
European and American universities and colleges admitted 
women; and in those parts of America and England in which 
coeducation was distrusted, new higher educational institutions 
were established exclusively for women. It is now generally con- 
ceded that women are equal to men in intellectual ability. ^^ In 
the United States to-day, more women than men complete cul- 
tural courses in secondary schools and in colleges and universities. 

Political rights were gained by women in a few European 
countries and American "states" during the closing years of the 
nineteenth century. The services performed by women during 
the Great War of 1914 won general sympathy with the suffrage 
movement, and in most free states to-day women have the 
right to vote and hold office on the same terms as men. 

III. The Ideal in Marriage, and Some of its Implications 

The modern ideal in marriage is an ethical sacrament. ^^ The 
relation does not rest upon a magical bond, — it is not sacramen- 



THE FAMILY, AND THE POSITION OF WOMEN 453 

tal in that sense in the minds of most of us. But it is something 
more sacred than an ordinary business contract. It is a tie in 
which a man and woman are united in Hfelong fidehty. Its 
emotional basis is a virtuous sentiment of love, in which im- 
pulses of tenderness, self-assertion, respect, sympathy, prudence, 
acquisitiveness, and constructiveness are powerfully combined 
with sexual attraction, and all sublimated into a common in- 
terest and common will. 

The ideal family is the most beautiful and most sacred human 
relationship. The words husband, wife, father, mother, and 
child are freighted with utmost meaning and value. In the 
ideal home, every member finds his highest joy in working with 
the others for the good of each individual. Whatever interests 
one is of intimate concern to the others. Each can confide his 
private hopes and aspirations and count on the understanding 
and support of all. Each is stimulated to his best efforts by 
this common love. The success of each individual is a common 
triumph; the weaknesses and failures of any member are mat- 
ters for mutual sorrow, but not bitter invective. All are ready 
to make every effort to help him to victory over self and circum- 
stances. Husband and wife are free personalities, with equal 
rights, each expert in his own sphere, and secure of the help 
and support of the other. Each child accepts parental counsel 
and guidance with loving docility, and is assisted in gaining 
free expression in the development of his personality. All mem- 
bers of the family work together to enable each to realize his 
ambitions; every one gladly makes sacrifices for the common 
good. The greatest affliction that can come to an ideal family 
is found in the death of one of its members; immediate solace 
is found in keeping his memory alive, and carrying out his wishes 
so far as changed circumstances render it possible; the most 
comforting consolation that religion can offer is the hope of 
family reunion in a future life. 

The ideal family is seldom completely realized, but all thought- 
ful men and women marry with the will to attain it. So far 
as they succeed, they accomplish what counts for most, whether 



454 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

estimated from the standards of welfare or happiness. The 
hfe of no man or woman who has been successful in the family 
is a complete failure. No one has led a successful hfe, if his or 
her home has gone to smash; achievements in other directions 
will not compensate a person for disaster in the most intimate 
personal relations. However unfortunate in later years, no one 
misses all in hfe who has been blest as a child with a good home. 
The memory of it will sustain and comfort him through the 
tribulations that may afterward come to him. 

To make himself or herself worthy of marriage is an incen- 
tive that should prompt every young person to whole hearted 
effort in work and play. Every young man who has learned to 
appreciate what his own home may mean to him some day, will 
do his best to prepare himself for his future position as the head 
of a family. He will make the most of his opportunities in study, 
in social contacts, in college student activities, in business, and 
professional work. 

To be worthy of marriage at its best is the strongest reason 
why a young man should be continent. He will desire to come 
to his bride with the same purity of mind and bodj^ that he 
expects of her. He will therefore train himself to think of sex 
in wholesome ways. He will avoid salacious books and plays. 
He will laugh ofT broad jokes when he is forced to hear them, and 
speedily forget them. Most of all, he will lead a life of strict 
continence. He will avoid prostitutes, because he will ablitor 
participation in a traffic based upon the ruin of young girls 
doomed to shame, disease, and early death. He will not wish to 
run the risk of infectious diseases which may make marriage 
impossible for him, or may transmit disease and sterility to his 
wife, or blindness and even more distressing afflictions to his 
children. Even if methods of prophylaxis and contraception 
were ever to become both infallible for their purposes and also 
free from every danger to health — neither of which conditions 
is at all true at present — the desire to be worthy of marriage at 
its best would remain for the thoughtful a sufficient incentive 
to strict continence. The attention of those interested in this 



THE FAMILY, AND THE POSITION OF WOMEN 455 

side of the matter may be called to the convincing words of 
Professor Durant Drake (Problems of Conduct, pages 210-216). 

A young man who finds continence difficult will resolutely 
keep himself out of the way of temptation. In regular indoor 
and outdoor exercise, in concentration on intellectual efforts, 
business activities and aesthetic interests, and in the society of 
good women he will probably find effective means of sublima- 
tion. He should avoid alcoholic drinks of every kind, and places 
in which they are sold ; for alcohol stimulates desire and removes 
inhibitions; most men who ruin themselves by sexual indiscre- 
tions do so under the influence of liquor. If with such precau- 
tions as have been suggested, he still finds self control a hard 
battle, he should seek the counsel of a physician, preferably a 
man of mature years and undoubted integrity. He will find 
such physicians wise and sympathetic; they are accustomed to 
giving advice on such matters to young men, suited to their 
particular needs. ^^ He will think of the future when he himself 
will be a father with sons to advise ; he will so conduct himself 
that he will be able to look his sons squarely in the eyes, and 
honestly to urge them to live as he has done himself. Many a 
father would gladly cut off his right hand, if he could undo his 
own reckless past and be able to talk in this way to his boys. 

Young women are usually more thoughtful than young men 
when it comes to contemplation of marriage. They should 
prepare themselves at home and at school so that they will be 
competent home makers, wives, and mothers. They will be 
discriminating in accepting the attentions of young men, and 
seek the counsel of their mothers, fathers, and other older 
friends whose judgment is more mature, and who are not likely 
to be carried away by romantic sentimentality. They will 
appreciate that character, personal purity, and kindness are 
more important qualifications in a husband than wealth or 
social graces. A man who is devoted to his mother is likely to 
be a good husband and father. ^^ There should be sexual attrac- 
tion toward a future husband, but common tastes, interests, 
ideals, and purposes are equally important. True love has its 



456 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

romantic side, but it has these other aspects as well. A woman 
ought to be in full sympathy with and appreciation for her 
husband's vocation, and be wilHng to accept whatever scale of 
living his success in it will make possible. She ought not to 
permit him to sacrifice his choice of a vocation in order to be 
able to marry her sooner, or to provide her a more luxurious 
scale of hving. At the same time romantic idealism ordinarily 
should not permit her to marry him before he can provide the 
necessities of a home.^^ 

Both young men and women should avoid serious flirtations. 
Those who have many insincere love affairs are hkely to become 
constitutionally incapable of the steadfast love and loyalt j' req- 
uisite for a happy marriage. A coquette is liable to end as a 
divorcee. 

One born and brought up in the nineteenth century hesitates 
to express himself decidedly upon contemporary "petting" and 
neglect of chaperons. Customs change, and the openness and 
frankness of the present time have redeeming features. But 
many thoughtful observers believe that a partial though not 
complete return to the conventions of a generation ago is over 
due, and predict that it will take place within another decade. 
Even now the ordinary young man probably would not care 
to marry a girl whom he knew had experienced the caresses of 
most of his men acquaintances. A prudent j^oung woman maj^ 
doubt if a man who has the reputation of being a "fast worker" 
and "able to kiss any girl" would make a verj^ good husband. 
People of refinement do not wish to select husbands or wives 
whose previous romantic history suggests bargain counters and 
second hand goods. 

IV. Divorce, Trial Marriages, etc. 

The ideal in marriage, as we have seen, is a lifelong union of 
husband and wife, in which each shares in the richer and fuller 
life which their union affords. The ethical problem is, by what 
laws and customs can society cause as many marriages as pos- 
sible to approximate this ideal? In the light of this problem 



THE FAMILY, AND THE POSITION OF WOMEN 457 

should be considered the ethics of divorce, trial marriages, and 
free love. 

The objection to free love, and scarcely less to trial and com- 
panionate marriages ^^ is that the relation would not be entered 
upon with the full expectation of a life long union. The ideal in 
marriage is not easily attained. Man is not instinctively monog- 
amous; he only becomes so as a result of social training and 
individual virtue. Unless a man and woman were to set up 
their home with the confident expectation that they will love 
and cherish each other so long as they live, it would hardly be 
possible in most cases for their marriage to prove permanent. 
Each would be wondering if he or she could not have made a 
better match, and if it were yet too late. Each would be tor- 
tured by jealousy. There is always a little friction at times in 
every home, but people who expect to live together all their 
Lives make up after each disagreement, and usually know that 
they are going to do so even while the dispute is on. It would 
be quite different in an order in which any quarrel could at once 
lead to a permanent separation and the formation of new alli- 
ances. Character and happiness are not to be found in that 
way; neither for man nor woman and certainly not for their 
children. Children who grow up in unhappy homes, or whose 
parents separate or become divorced, are not likely to develop 
as satisfactorily in either an intellectual or a moral way, as those 
who experience normal family relationships. ^° 

There are those who maintain that divorce should be granted 
on the mutual consent of husband and wife. They reason in 
some such way as the following. If a marriage fails to secure 
its purpose, and if instead a home is a place of strife, jealousy, 
and ill will, neither husband nor wife can develop in character 
and happiness. Such a place is the worst possible for children 
to be brought up. Such a marriage ought certainly to be dis- 
solved; and the man and woman ought to have the right to 
marry again. If they are not allowed to marry again, they will 
probably do worse. After their previous failure they will have 
learned by experience, and be wiser in their choice of mates. 



458 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

Moreover, the parties directly concerned know best whether a 
marriage has become intolerable. Courts should grant petitions 
for divorce signed by both husband and wife, merely taking 
precautions that proper financial provision is made for the wife 
and children. Public scandal will thus be avoided, and un- 
happily married people will escape the cruel publicity that 
now often attends divorce suits. These are typical arguments 
in favor of divorce by mutual consent. 

On further thought, it will be seen that there are grave objec- 
tions to legaUzing divorce by mutual consent. If this were to 
become law and custom, it would speedily degenerate into 
divorce at the desire of either spouse. For neither could seem 
reasonable in holding the other to a marriage that he or she 
found disagreeable. Painful as the situation would be, the 
husband or wife no longer loved would have to allow the other 
to depart in peace. And if either spouse could at any time 
easily force the other to agree to a divorce, there would be little 
stabiHty in the married relation. Successful husbands would be 
the prey of charming adventuresses, whose youth and beauty 
would snare them away from wives who had grown old and 
physically unattractive from childbearing and from economic 
privation in the years of struggle while the husbands were 
getting started in their careers. The heart of many a loving 
and faithful wife would be broken, and her children would lose 
their father's care, while the fickle man himself would become 
wretched and disillusioned in his second marriage. Some men 
are more likely to become weak and fooHsh when they have 
attained prosperity at fifty than when thej^ were struggUng at 
twenty; laws and customs should protect them and their 
families so far as is possible. Young wives, in other cases, would 
be disappointed that their husbands did not advance more 
rapidly, or because they devoted themselves too much to busi- 
ness. They would look about to see if they might not marry 
wealthier or more chivalrous gentlemen. Such affinities dis- 
covered, it would be easy to persuade their husbands to "give 
them their freedom". Beautiful and ambitious but selfish 



THE FAMILY, AND THE POSITION OF WOMEN 459 

young women womW look on a present marriage as merely a 
temporary stepping-stone to a more advantageous one. 

Husbands and wives under a system which allowed divorce 
by mutual consent would never feel secure of each other's love. 
There would be many crimes hke Othello's, and far more of the 
intense human misery that prompts to them. Fewer men and 
women would persist in the effort to live in mutual love and 
devotion, and many more persons would miss the joys of mar- 
riage at its best. While permission of divorce by mutual con- 
sent would no doubt prove beneficial in some instances, there is 
every reason to beheve that on the whole it would diminish 
rather than increase the total number of successful homes. 

But how about the opposite extreme? Why not forbid divorce 
and remarriage altogether; only in the most aggravated cases 
permitting husband and wife to separate, and allowing neither 
to remarry? Those who favor this position base their arguments 
on theological doctrines rather than upon study of modern 
social experience. Few if any probate judges and physicians 
take this stand. In countries where divorce is forbidden alto- 
gether the double standard is more likely to mark the conduct 
of men; if a man's home life is unhappy and there is no legal 
escape from it, society is not very severe in judging him if he 
seeks consolation elsewhere in an irregular relation. In such 
countries illegitimacy is often frequent, and laws forbid courts 
to inquire into the paternity of illegitimate children. The latter 
grow up under a stigma, without the love and care of two 
parents in a normal home. Wives under a social system where 
divorce is forbidden absolutely are frequently taught that 
it is their duty to remain in homes where husbands are cruel, 
drunken, notoriously unfaithful, and even syphilitic. Children 
who grow up under such conditions have the years of childhood 
saddened, and at worst become mentally, morally, and physically 
abnormal. Very few free countries remain to-day in which 
divorce on the most serious grounds is not permitted. 

The experience of the majority of modern free states has led 
them to authorize the courts to grant a divorce if a spouse is 



460 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

proved to have been guilty of such offenses as adultery, habitual 
drunkenness for several years, serious crime, desertion, or if 
impotent, or incurably insane. Other grave offenses are some- 
times added to the list.-^ No wronged wife or husband is under 
any circumstances forced by law to ask for a divorce; he or she 
may forgive and endure as long as there seems hope that condi- 
tions may improve. But when a person appears in the courts 
and seeks relief from the marriage bond on such grounds as 
these, divorce should be granted. To allow divorce onty on 
grave grounds is not open to the objections that we have seen 
to divorce by mutual consent. 

Many are alarmed at the frequency of divorces in the United 
States. At the time of writing, one is granted to every six or 
seven marriages, taking the country as a whole; and for some 
decades past the ratio of divorces to marriages has been in- 
creasing. So far as this situation exists in some "states " because 
divorces are granted for trivial reasons or upon inconclusive 
evidence, reforms are urgent. Only grave grounds should be 
recognized; laws and methods of court procedure should be 
strict. In some way laws of marriage and divorce must be 
made more nearly uniform throughout the country. IMany 
divorces are the result of hasty and ill-considered marriages. 
Laws might well require persons under twenty-one to obtain 
the consent of their parents or guardians before they marry. 
The application for a marriage license ought to be published two 
weeks in advance of the ceremony. A fortnight of deliberation 
before taking so momentous a step is a minimum wliich societj^ 
might properly require. The interval between publication of the 
appUcation for the license and the celebration of the ceremonj^ 
would allow time for any to protest who know of reasons whj^ 
the marriage should not take place. Men should be required by 
law to pass medical examinations showing that they are free 
from infectious diseases; no decent man could feel insulted at 
such a legal requirement, while without a law to that effect it 
often seems indelicate for a bride's father to suggest it.'-'- 

However, the frequency of divorce in the United States 



THE FAMILY, AND THE POSITION OF WOMEN 461 

is partly justified. Under present economic conditions it is 
easier than in former times or in other countries for a woman 
to find means to support herself and even one or two chil- 
dren; a woman is not forced to endure for herself and her 
children demoralizing domestic conditions because divorce 
would mean financial hardship or actual destitution. Coun- 
tries where the legal grounds are substantially the same as in 
ours, but where divorces are fewer in number because the cost 
of a suit is excessive for the poor, or because little employment 
is available for a divorced woman, probably have fewer satis- 
factory homes than we. Our country has the reputation of 
being one in which home life on the average is unusually pure, 
in which women are respected, the single standard is generally 
observed by men, and prostitution is kept by law and public 
opinion somewhere near a minimum. Conditions are by no 
means perfect, and there is great room for improvement. But 
in these matters we can safely face comparison with most 
other free states, even those in which divorce is rare. 

The ultimate solution of the divorce problem, apart from the 
remedies already suggested, is an elevation of the public moral 
conscience with regard to marriage itself. If the ethical ideal of 
marriage can be kept clearly before the minds of all of our peo- 
ple, if the significance of the marriage tie as an ethical sacrament 
can be constantly remembered, and all can be inspired with the 
will to lead pure lives in families bound together by ties of 
mutual love and common purposes, the divorce question will 
take care of itself. A divorce is not itself a disease; it is rather 
a surgical operation employed to remedy a disease. The cause 
of the disease is failure to appreciate the ethical values of the 
family itself. Clergymen and other moral leaders should attack 
the problem from this side ; they can do much service if they can 
inspire the community with higher ideals regarding the ethical 
significance of marriage. 

Young people are liable to be disturbed at the thought of 
marriage in these days, when fiction and the drama are largely 
concerned with triangular situations, and "realism" seems to 



462 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

consist of the depiction of unusual and morbid rather than 
typical, not to say morally ideal relations. They wonder whether 
marriages can ever be happy. This is to see marriage in a 
false perspective. Nearly all women and most men are pure. 
Only one marriage in seven proves so unsuccessful as to ter- 
minate in a divorce. The vast majority of married people find 
their highest satisfactions in their homes. Those who marry 
after careful thought, moved by mutual love and respect for 
each other and reverence for the married relation, are not 
likely to make a mistake in the most important decision of 
their lives. This is particularly true when young men and young 
women seek the advice of their fathers and mothers and other 
older friends before they become engaged to be married. ^^ 

V. Unsettled Questions Regarding the Position 
OF Women 

Women have gained, at least in principle, full civil and 
political rights. Such unjust restrictions upon their civic free- 
dom as still remain in this country will be removed before 
many years, through the general sense of fair play and the 
efforts of such organizations as the women's clubs, the trade 
unions which have female members, the League of Women 
Voters, the National Women's Party, and the women's organiza- 
tions in the regular political parties. However, many problems 
remain unsettled regarding the use that women should make of 
their freedom. 

The old theory, coming down from father right, sometimes 
called the patriarchal or pseudo-domestic theory, of which the 
German Kaiser, Wilhelm II, was a famous exponent, maintains 
that "woman's place is in the home "; that her whole attention 
should be devoted to the four K's {Kirche, Kleider, Kiiche and 
Kinder; in English, four c's, church, clothes, cooking, and chil- 
dren). Before the industrial revolution there was much to be 
said for this theory. There was plenty for a woman to do in 
her home to occupy her time and render her efficient and happy. 
All the processes involved in making the garments which the 



rHE FAMILY, AND THE POSITION OF WOMEN 463 

family wore — from care for the unsecured wool and fresh 
flax through weaving, spinning, tailoring, and dressmaking, 
were carried on by women in the American colonial home. 
This was also true of all the lighter work in the curing and 
preservation of animal and vegetable food, and the manufac- 
ture of candles and soap. The average home was a dairy, a 
textile center, an illuminating plant, a cannery and meat 
packing establishment, a soap factory, laundry, cleaning and 
dyeing concern, and a manufactory of articles of clothing. A 
woman, if poor, could count upon the assistance of unmarried 
sisters or daughters, probably also of a female servant. House- 
hold servants were plentiful and not expensive, this being the 
chief form of employment for a girl outside of her own home. 
A wealthy woman would be a busy executive, directing the 
labor of numerous paid assistants, or, in the South, of slaves. A 
woman could well be as important a factor in economic pro- 
duction as her husband. Her activities could afford as much 
opportunity for self-realization and service as those of the vir- 
tuous woman described in the concluding chapter of the book of 
Proverbs. 

To-day all this is changed. The home is no longer to the 
same extent an industrial center. The classes of women who 
in former days were employed as servants in these processes of 
production in homes are still weaving and spinning cloth and 
making it into garments, and are engaged in most of the other 
processes mentioned; but they are working in factories. Serv- 
ants in most parts of America are now available only for the 
wealthy or decidedly well-to-do. 

The result is that we now sometimes find two socially deca- 
dent types of women. (Of course the great majority of women 
do not belong to either of these unfortunate types.) There is 
the household drudge, worn out by the toil of unassisted house- 
work without modern conveniences, and the care of children, 
with whom she often has no one to leave on the rare occasions 
when she might otherwise be able to snatch an hour for recre- 
ation. Then, almost equally pitiful, is what Professor W. I. 



464 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

Thomas has called "the adventitious type of woman ".^^ This 
latter type of woman is found chiefly in the wealthier classes, 
although she is discoverable at lower economic levels as the 
spoiled child of an overworked mother. She has no economi- 
cally productive tasks whatever. As a girl she devotes her most 
concentrated thought to dressing herself to look pretty and cap- 
ture a husband. Though this is a serious business in a waj^, it 
is not one calculated to develop much force of character, or any 
very solid qualities. After marriage, she does nothing at all ex- 
cept amuse herself by going into society, shopping, and possi- 
bly carrying on flirtations. At best she has no serious respon- 
sibilities, — no opportunity like her husband and brothers to 
find happiness and self-realization in serious undertakings. 

Some radical writers, mostly socialists, propose to remedy 
the situation by drastic measures. The household drudge, they 
say, can be eliminated through arrangements by which all fam- 
ilies will live in apartment houses where food will be prepared, 
clothes washed, rooms cleaned, and children cared for by pro- 
fessional workers who will attend to all these operations in a 
wholesale way. They also wish to eliminate the adventitious 
type of woman. They propose that eveiy adult woman shall 
be employed in some kind of work or business. The only ex- 
ception will be mothers during pregnancy and lactation, who 
will be financially supported by the state. No adult woman 
shall be permitted to be financially dependent on a man for her 
support. Women will have careers like men, with similar op- 
portunities for productive work, self-realization, and happi- 
ness.^^ 

The trouble is that such radical schemes would break up home 
life. It is morally good for a man to support his own wife and 
children; responsibilitj^ strengthens his character; he loves his 
family better and he is more likely to be faithful to them. A 
home is better for children, too. Home life and mothers really 
count. Those who do not appreciate this, one suspects, are 
either very thoughtless, or else have had unfortunate and un- 
typical childhoods. Children arc liable not to thrive either 



THE FAMILY, AND THE POSITION OF WOMEN 465 

physically or morally in public institutions, no matter how care- 
fully supervised by nurses and physicians. Infectious children's 
diseases spread among them and the rate of mortality is high. 
Fond parents sometimes coddle their children over much, as 
the psychologists are pointing out to us; but while this is true, 
no child can gain the best spiritual development who does not 
have the personal care of natural or foster parents. 

However, this much ought to be conceded to the radicals. 
When a father dies, or is an incurable invalid, or has disappeared 
and cannot be found and put to work to support his family, 
or is worthless and his wife has to divorce him so that she will 
have one less mouth to feed, a decent mother ought to receive 
state aid, so that she can stay at home and bring up her own 
children. That is the greatest service that she can render to 
society. Mothers' pensions are now provided in some of the 
United States, as well as in other lands, to meet such emergen- 
cies. ^^ Mothers, if necessary, should be cared for at public ex- 
pense when children are born. The right of every child to come 
into the world under favorable conditions should be safeguarded 
by the state at least to this extent. But a recreant father should 
be compelled to provide for his family whenever it is possible to 
make him do so, both for the good of his own soul, his family, 
and the public interest. 

The lot of the household drudge can be mitigated to a large 
extent without resorting to radical measures. Among the classes 
of society who are likely to be included among the readers of 
this book the problem is fairly simple. Most housework in 
these days can be made easy by electrical appliances of various 
kinds, — stoves, washing machines, irons, vacuum cleaners, sew- 
ing machines, and the like — which are within the financial reach 
of the college graduate by the time that he is ready to marry. 
In building or renting a house or choosing an apartment, it 
should be remembered that from the point of view of the woman 
who has to do her own work the most important room is the 
kitchen. If this is convenient, not too large, and its furnishings 
so arranged as to save all needless steps, a healthy young woman 



466 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

will not find her home work excessive. ^'^ For the laboring classes 
the problem of the overworked housewife is not so easy of 
solution. Present movements for better housing with more 
modern conveniences will, when completed, do something to 
alleviate the situation. Every city should have municipal 
laundries where a woman at a nominal fee can do the family 
washing with the use of modern machinery. ^^ 

It is unnecessary that any woman should belong to the adven- 
titious type. Under modern conditions every healthy woman 
ought to have a vocation. Every unmarried woman whose serv- 
ices are not needed in the home should, like her brothers, enter 
a profession or business, as a matter of course. This is desirable 
for the development of her own character and happiness. No 
man or woman can gain the highest satisfactions in life who does 
not have the opportunity for self-expression which creative work 
alone affords. College women appreciate this, and most of them 
who are not engaged to be married plan to enter vocations after 
graduation. 

The term vocation is identical in many minds with the law, 
medicine, teaching, advertising, banking, commerce, engineer- 
ing, pharmacy, library or secretarial work, social service, and 
other occupations too numerous to mention. But why should 
not home making also be reckoned as a vocation in this age 
when modern machinery minimizes the time necessarj^ for 
routine tasks, and frees a woman for the larger activities of a 
more intellectual and spiritual nature? It is a calling in which 
there is opportunity for the cultivation of a wide variety of 
interests and talents. No other vocation calls for such versa- 
tility; for this reason it makes an appeal to women who are 
adaptable and rightly deters those who are not. A housewife 
who acquaints herself with the chemistry of foods can do much 
to keep the family healthy and cheerful by properly balanced 
meals. An understanding of simple rules of hj^giene, as well 
as some knowledge of medicines and nursing is found to prove 
invaluable. An elementary understanding of accounting will 
enable her to plan the family budget, and a wise husband will 



THE FAMILY, AND THE POSITION OF WOMEN 467 

be glad to give a capable wife the responsibilities of disbursing 
agent of the family. ^^ In case the family income admits a mar- 
gin for saving, an efficient home maker will make this possible. 
The wife should either assist in making investments or she 
should have an allowance of her own sufficiently large to enable 
her to accumulate savings to invest personally, after consulta- 
tion with her banker. No woman should make her first ac- 
quaintance with the interior of a bank after she has been ap- 
pointed administratrix of her husband's estate. 

On the aesthetic side, no matter how large or how small the 
sum available for home decoration and furnishing, a woman 
with some knowledge of line, proportion, color, materials, and 
other principles of household art, will welcome the opportunity 
for the exercise of creative taste and ingenuity. 

The vocation of home maker more than any other favors a 
woman's development in such of the more spiritual qualities, as 
tact, sympathy, patience, love, and understanding. A man's 
business or professional associates see only one side of him and 
that probably the best. Yet he at times tries their patience. 
A child's teacher usually sees him only as a pupil, and may often 
find him a sore trial. But the wife and mother has to deal 
with whole men and whole children, whether they are good- 
natured or irritable, ill or well, perverse and obstinate, or con- 
siderate and affectionate. And she must have an inexhausti- 
ble sense of humor, though at times she must not allow herself 
to give it outward expression. The ability to see and appreciate 
the inherent good in those about her, to invite and develop 
the free expression of each personality, to be a ready listener and 
a wise guide, — all this is not easy to do. Some knowledge of 
child psychology and educational theory and practice will be 
of great value to her, not only in training children in the home, 
but in planning the details of their education. The woman 
with intellectual interests will find in the problems of her home 
sufficient incitement to study literature treating of the various 
subjects mentioned, for she cannot draw from her reservoir 
of new ideas if the source has run dry. 



468 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

However full this program appears, a married woman is not 
necessarily limited to her home for interests and activities. In 
time, keeping household accounts becomes a matter of routine ; 
a properly balanced diet for the family is less difficult; system 
in the household is established. After children are old enough 
to be in school she often has free hours in the day which she can 
devote to economic activity of some kind, and so broaden her 
own life, increase the family income, and be of service to others. 
This becomes increasingly true as the children attain their 
maturity. There already are some kinds of remunerative work 
in which a married woman with hours of leisure can engage 
without neglecting her home. There will be more openings 
when business and industry realize that a woman trained in 
this school of experience has much to offer, — mature judgment, 
willingness to carry responsibility, an understanding of what 
is essential in the more fundamental matters of living.^" 

There are women, however, who need not consider financial 
returns for the free hours at their disposal, and this is well. 
Every city and town needs those interested in problems of 
community housekeeping, public health, the care of the aged, 
the delinquent, and the retarded. Such services may be un- 
dertaken individually or in groups. One has only to consult 
the list of suggestive constructive things accomplished by va- 
rious women's clubs, ^^ not to mention other organizations, to 
glimpse the possibilities for productive effort in these fields. 
Reclamation projects are quite as necessary in the social as in 
the industrial and engineering fields; all are intimately connected 
with one another. 

There may be women in the home who do not feel particu- 
larly interested in such activities as those just mentioned. For 
them there is available the intellectual stimulus gained from the 
serious study of belles lettres, music, and the fine arts. Eu- 
ropean visitors occasionally remark that American women, 
although more often university graduates than their European 
sisters, devote less time to mental cultivation, with the result 
that their conversation is more trivial and commonplace. An 



THE FAMILY, AND THE POSITION OF WOMEN 469 

American college alumna too often sees no need in further stud- 
ies. She has graduated and has her diploma. So she asks, why- 
she may not forget her college subjects like her brothers who 
have gone into business. She is liable to limit her conversation 
to gossip, the weather, and housekeeping. Avoiding lectures, 
concerts, and thoughtful reading, in some cases she spends too 
much time at dances, bridge parties, and other frivolous so- 
cial entertainment. 

On the contrary, American matrons with leisure can do much 
to elevate the intellectual life of the country, not by giving su- 
perficial attention to a different topic every month, but by a se- 
rious consideration of the essential phases of some author's 
work, artist's composition, or historical movement. A suc- 
cessful man does not count his year worth much unless his bal- 
ance sheet shows profits at the end of that period. May not 
a woman hold herself to standards quite as rigorously? 

Better informed as a rule than men on the problems of the 
home and school, women should take active interest in local 
politics, serving on school boards and city councils. It seems to 
the author a proper division of duty for the wife to inform the 
family upon the merits of local candidates and issues, while the 
husband reports upon national parties, platforms, and can- 
didates. Husband, wife, and adult children should exercise 
independent judgment in voting, but the opinions of Father 
and Mother will have weight in the provinces with which each 
is best acquainted. Churches, lodges, women's clubs, social 
settlements, and other organizations afford married women a 
wide variety of fields in which they can be useful. 

The blame at the present time for the existence of women of 
the adventitious type therefore rests chiefly with themselves, or 
with the manner in which they were brought up. Nothing in 
the social situation makes it inevitable for any woman to belong 
in this category. 

At present there probably is less difference between the ac- 
tivities of men and women than has been true at any time in 
previous social evolution, subsequent to the establishment of 



470 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

the paternal system in the relation of Kinship. And it seems 
probable that the differences between the sexes will continue 
to diminish during the coming generation. Women have vir- 
tually all of the civil and political rights of men. In America 
they are as well or better educated. Unmarried women are 
free to engage in practically all trades and professions. A large 
range of possible forms of self-expression and social usefulness 
are open to married women. Just as men began to wear their 
hair short, and left off silk, satin, and lace an hundred years 
ago, women to-day are adapting their dress to the requirements 
of an active life, and are preferring convenience and health to 
ornament. However, biological reasons and social convenience 
will always keep the sexes differentiated in their activities and 
interests to a certain extent. Most women will continue to be 
home makers, and only a minority will be engaged in business 
and the professions. The biologically greater eagerness of the 
male, to which Darwin called attention, will cause men to con- 
tinue to take the initiative in courtship. Men will normally be 
the economic supporters of their families. The monogamous 
ethical system will remain essentially unchanged in theory. 
The ideal family will more often be realized in practice. ^- 

REFERENCES 

* J. Dewey and J. H. Tufts, Ethics, chap. XXVI. 

* Durant Drake, Problems of Conduct, chap. XVII. 

* H. Baker-Crothers and Ruth Hudnut, Problems of Citizei-iship, 

chaps. XII-XVI. 

* J. H. Wigmore, editor. Rational Basis of Legal Institutions, chaps. 

XXXIX-XLVI. 

* S. E. Mezes, Ethics, Descriptive and Explanatory, chap. XI. 

* L. T. Hobhouse, Morals in Evolution, Part I, chaps. IV, V. 

* A. Maude Royden, Sex and Common Sense. 

* Ida M. Tarbell, The Business of Being a Woman. 

* Robert Grant, Law and the Fatnily, chaps. ^'-VII. 

* R. C. Cabot, What Men Live By, chap. XIX. 

* William McDougall, Character and the Conduct of Life, chaps. XVI- 

XX. 



THE FAMILY, AND THE POSITION OF WOMEN 471 

J. S. Mill, The Subjection of Women. 

Helen Bosanquet, The Family. 

Willystine Goodsell, Problems of the Family. 

Edward Westermarck, History of Human Marriage (3 vols.). 

G. E. Howard, History of Matrimonial Institutions (3 vols.). 

Robert Briffault, The Mothers (3 vols.). 



PART V 
METAPHYSICS AND RELIGION 



CHAPTER XIX 

THE ETHICAL POSTULATES, AND THEIR SIGNIFI- 
CANCE FOR METAPHYSICS AND THE PHILOSOPHY 
OF RELIGION 

I. Essential Postulates for any Possible System of Ethics 

Investigators in any field are obliged to begin with certain 
assumptions which they do not endeavor to demonstrate at the 
outset. Mathematics starts with its well known axioms and 
postulates, which physics accepts, and with which it combines 
assumptions regarding space, time, energy, etc. Psychology 
implies all the postulates of the older natural sciences, and to 
these adds, or used to add, that of consciousness. With the 
progress of a science, its initial assumptions are revised from 
time to time in the light of new developments. In mathematics, 
for instance, the discovery of the geometries of non-Euclidean 
space has led to such a revision. The theories of Einstein and 
others are causing a restatement of the postulates of physics. 
Some psychologists think that they need no longer assume the 
existence of consciousness; the postulates essential to the con- 
ception of reflexes, conditioned and otherwise, they deem suffi- 
cient. If, in any science, to start with certain postulates results 
in a satisfactory explanation of known phenomena and the 
discovery of additional important facts not previously known, 
the postulates may be regarded as at least provisionally estab- 
lished. 

There are certain essential postulates that must be made by 
any possible system of ethics, so far as one can judge at the 
present time. The future development of ethics may lead to 
their revision in ways that cannot be foreseen. 

1. The first of these postulates is the validity of the most simple 
and ultimate intuitions which form the predicates of our moral 

475 



476 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

judgments, such as "good", "bad", "evil", "better", "worse", 
"ought", and "ought not".^ It may be possible to reduce 
"good" and "bad" to modes of "better" and "worse", or vice 
versa. "Good" and "right" may be taken to signify "what 
ought to be done"; and "bad" and "wrong", "what ought 
not to be done". However, such attempts at reduction are 
bound to terminate with a few intuitions that cannot be fur- 
ther reduced by logical analysis. 

Psychologically, sociologically, and physiologically we can 
state the conditions that make moral judgments possible. Ps}"- 
chologically speaking, we are able to make moral judgments 
because we can reason, i.e., think of possible consequences of 
an action, compare them with one another, and decide which we 
ought to prefer since in the long run they will most completely 
satisfy our desires, including those which we have for the welfare 
of other people. Physiologically interpreted, this process is a 
function of certain cells, located chiefly in the frontal lobes of 
the cortex of the cerebrum. Sociologically explained, as we have 
seen in previous chapters, the contents of the moral conscious- 
ness of any individual, — i.e., the specific persons and actions to 
whom and to which he applies the moral predicates of "good", 
"bad", etc. — are chiefly due to the moral traditions of the so- 
cial groups to which he belongs; although if he is reflective, he 
may make a few modifications on his own initiative. But to 
state the psychological, physiological, and sociological conditions 
of moral judgments is not to explain their unique character; any 
more than the characteristics of blue and red are accounted 
for by saying that each is the correlate of waves of light of cer- 
tain lengths, or the characteristics of water by explaining that it 
is a combination in a certain proportion of elements of hydrogen 
and oxygen. 

Ethics must assume, as a postulate, that there is a real dis- 
tinction between "good" and "bad"; that the former "ought" 
to be done, and the latter "ought not" to be done. (This 
truth was conceded in Chapter XI to the advocates of abstract 
ethics.) Men often make mistakes in apphiug these moral 



METAPHYSICS AND RELIGION 477 

predicates; they do not correctly distinguish between "good" 
and "bad", and they misinterpret their moral obligations. The 
ordinary man is right in applying moral judgments in the manner 
of his group. He does not know how to do otherwise; even if 
he did, the group would probably insist on his conformity. Yet 
the student of comparative ethics may discern that the moral 
judgments of a group are wrong in certain respects; somewhat 
different mores would promote their welfare and happiness more 
effectively, if only the group realized it. In coming to this affir- 
mation, the student of comparative ethics pronounces his own 
moral judgments from the Eudaemonistic and Utilitarian stand- 
points of the twentieth century, which we believe to be the most 
adequate that ethical theory has as yet been able to obtain. 
Moral philosophers in future ages will doubtless have more 
accurate standards. No standards now known to man can be 
claimed to be absolute and eternal; all we can say is that our 
most carefully reasoned standards are objective for us. 

2. Another essential ethical postulate is the continuity of the 
ethical self, — the "empirical me" of the first section of Chapter 
X. A man must in some sense be the same person who did the 
act for which he now rejoices or repents, and which his neigh- 
bors judge with moral favor or disapproval. If the self of any 
individual were merely a succession of mental states, or of con- 
ditioned reflexes, and did not know itself in some sense as a 
unity, it would be as absurd to pass moral judgments upon it as 
if it were a river or a steam engine. 

3. Closely connected is the third ethical postulate, that of 
moral responsibility and psychological freedom. As we saw in the 
closing section of Chapter X, ethics assumes that a sane person 
in ordinary circumstances is responsible for his own acts, and 
that this responsibility implies freedom of choice.^ How free- 
dom is to be explained is a metaphysical question, on which 
determinists and indeterminists are not agreed ; but each school 
accepts moral responsibility as a fact and tries to account for it. 

4. Any system of ethics must postulate a denial both of extreme 
optimism and of extreme pessimism. This excludes any form of 



478 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

optimism which declares that everything is absolutely perfect 
as it is; that, despite anybody's actions, all is equally certain to 
come out for the best. For on such a view it can hardly be af- 
firmed that it really makes much difference wha.t any one does 
or what sort of person he is. It is doubtful whether any serious 
philosopher has ever really intended to carry his optimism to 
this extreme of moral indifferentism ; but some philosophers and 
poets who praise everything, find all good and deny the existence 
of evil altogether, appear to their critics to come close to it. 

Ethics would be rendered equally impossible by a pessimism 
that affirmed that everything is already absolutely bad; that 
nothing could possibly be made any worse no matter what 
evils anybody were to do, nor better however hard everybody 
might try to improve conditions. It is doubtful whether any 
thinker has consciously intended to teach a philosophy of such 
absolute despair. Schopenhauer, and thousands of years be- 
fore him the early Buddhists, were pessimists. Both, however, 
found means by which they believed that the suffering in the 
world might be mitigated, and they indicated ways by which 
the faithful might ultimately escape from evil altogether. 
Most pessimists have been similar to other moral philosophers 
in their moral precepts; the difference being that pessimists 
believe all that can be done is to reduce evil to a minimum, 
positive happiness and welfare being unattainable. 

While, as has been said, neither optimism nor pessimism 
has often consciously been carried to the extreme of moral in- 
differentism, it is justifiable to ask of any philosophy whether 
its logical implications, if honestly thought out, would lead to 
such an outcome. Whenever such can be shown to be the case, 
the philosophy is demonstrably in conflict with the essential 
postulates of ethics. And these postulates seem to be well es- 
tablished. 

5. Closely related is a fifth ethical postulate, the possibility 
of moral progress, both for individuals and for humanity. If 
we could not believe that we were able to secure better organ- 
ized characters for ourselves and for others, and so to advance in 



METAPHYSICS AND RELIGION 479 

pursuit of the values that constitute welfare and render hap- 
piness possible, the moral life would lose all meaning. Any 
system of philosophy that denies the possibility of moral prog- 
ress to the extent of discouraging effort is a pernicious form of 
either pessimism or optimism. Equally opposed to ethics is 
any philosophy that goes to the opposite extreme and regards 
moral progress as certain, assured, automatic, so that human 
effort is superfluous. Most favorable to ethics is some form of 
meliorism; — the doctrine that the world is neither absolutely 
perfect nor hopelessly bad; that it is possible by united effort 
for each generation to leave it improved ; that such improvement 
actually has been taking place in the history of moral evolu- 
tion, and will continue in the future, not automatically, but be- 
cause men concentrate their best efforts to that end. 

Because a philosophical study like ethics, which has not yet 
become a special science, assumes certain postulates, it might 
not seem a necessary conclusion that these postulates are true. 
Even a science may sometimes be erected on false assumptions; 
think of alchemy, phrenology, palmistry, and many others! 
But ethics has been sufficiently successful in interpreting human 
conduct, and in proposing standards for its guidance, to render 
its postulates worthy of credence. To reject them would be to 
refuse to believe in the assumptions that underlie not only 
theoretical ethics, but also the practical morality of everyday 
life, upon which our social structure is based. 

The author has expressed these five postulates in his own 
way. He believes, however, that all moral philosophers accept 
them in principle, and that all treatises in ethics assume them. 
Many students of ethics would prefer to express the postulates 
in different language, and to put a different emphasis on va- 
rious details. Some would add other postulates to the list. 
Thus far in this chapter, however, the author believes that he 
has said nothing of a controversial character. The remainder 
of the chapter, on the other hand, will deal with topics on which 
the diversity of opinion among philosophers is as wide as that 
among thinking men in general. 



480 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS 

II. Further Metaphysical Implications of Ethics 

Metaphysics is the part of philosophy that attempts to dis- 
cover the fundamental principles of reality,— the ultimate na- 
ture of the universe, and man's relation to it. Students who 
have taken a course in an American college styled "Introduc- 
tion to Philosophy", or who have read a book with that or a 
similar title, have been studying metaphysics; for such courses 
and books usually devote little attention to the other branches 
of philosophy, such as ethics, logic, gesthetics, and the philoso- 
phy of religion. There are numerous schools of metaphj'sics 
to-day, and the adherents of each are hopeful that they are 
right and the others wrong; but long experience has taught 
metaphysicians to be mutually tolerant. All are willing to 
learn from one another, and none is entirely confident of his 
own position. 

All contemporary schools of metaphysics accept the ordi- 
nary moral judgments of our time. All would assent, the author 
supposes, to the ethical postulates outlined in the preceding sec- 
tion. Ethics, of course, is only one of the fields of human in- 
vestigation which metaphysicians must take into account in 
their endeavor to interpret the world as a whole. Those of a 
poetic or idealistic temper are likely to attach great significance 
to ethical and aesthetic judgments and aspirations, and to find 
in them keys to the nature of ultimate reality. Those of more 
realistic and scientific bent, on the other hand, are mindful that 
our galaxy of stars is so vast, that the evolution of man, a late 
arrival on a tiny planet, may not be momentous in the history 
of the universe; the moral judgments that make for human wel- 
fare and happiness do not necessarily reveal the ultimate na- 
ture of things so certainly as sciences like mathematics, physics, 
astronomy and chemistry, which deal with material more widely 
diffused in space. 

There is at least one affirmation that the moral philosopher 
may make, which no system of metaphysics can reasonably' 
exclude. However mechanical may be the operations of in- 



METAPHYSICS AND RELIGION 481 

organic matter, and even of living beings other than man, the 
nature of the world does not entirely exclude man's initiative 
and freedom of choice. No fact, even in physics, is so certain 
as that of human moral responsibility. The latter has been 
verified by the experience of mankind in all nations and all ages. 
We know it to be a fact, because all social relationships have 
successfully assumed it. Human societies could not have en- 
dured if they had been built upon a fundamental assumption 
that was false. A man's conduct, perhaps, is conditioned by 
the operations of the cells in his nervous system; and the lat- 
ter without doubt are subject to all the laws of mathematics, 
physics, chemistry, and physiology. Yet the cells of the human 
nervous system, when functioning normally, become a conscious 
personality which proceeds to pronounce some actions good and 
others bad, to recognize and act on moral obligations, and to 
pronounce judgments of moral approval and condemnation 
upon other persons. Ethics can produce sufficient evidence to 
refute any metaphysics of mechanistic materialism that might 
be carried to the point of denying the fact of human moral re- 
sponsibility. 

There are at least five prominent schools of metaphysics in 
the Engli